Improving accommodation in residential aged care

We are working with older people and the aged care sector to improve the design of residential aged care accommodation.

About the initiative

We have been working to improve the design of residential aged care accommodation, in response to recommendation 45 of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

From 1 July 2024, National Aged Care Design Principles and Guidelines will guide refurbishments and new residential aged care accommodation builds to ensure they: 

  • promote independence, function and enjoyment for residents
  • support staff in the delivery of high-quality, safe, respectful and dignified care.

The  principles and guidelines are:

National Aged Care Design Principles and Guidelines

The National Aged Care Design Principles and Guidelines provide a comprehensive, evidence-based resource to guide accommodation design to support the delivery of high quality, safe, respectful and dignified care for older people living in residential aged care accommodation.

Why it is important

The principles and guidelines focus on creating more accessible, dementia-friendly and home-like living environments. This will help improve quality of life for older people living in residential aged care and working environments for aged care staff.

Older people, especially those living with cognitive impairment or dementia, will benefit from well-designed aged care accommodation that is guided by four principles:

  • Enable the person – Support people living in a place that maintains their health, wellbeing and sense of identity.
  • Cultivate a home – Create a familiar environment in which people have privacy, control and feel they belong.
  • Access the outdoors – Support people seeing, accessing and spending time outdoors in contact with nature.
  • Connect with community – Encourage people to connect with family, friends and community, continuing to participate in meaningful activities.


The principles and guidelines aim to:

  • guide residential aged care providers when refurbishing and building aged care homes
  • improve quality of life for people living in residential aged care and to support safe workplaces for staff
  • give older people greater confidence that the aged care home they choose will meet their needs.


We have consulted extensively with:

  • older people, including those living with dementia, their families and carers
  • the aged care sector 
  • design and technical experts
  • peak bodies, health professionals and regulatory bodies.

Consultation activities have included:

  • releasing 2 discussion papers and a design survey – see the summary of feedback
  • conducting interviews and focus groups
  • seeking input from aged care providers about the design of their residential aged care accommodation
  • releasing the draft  and an online form seeking feedback 
  • running a design ideas competition inviting architects and designers to test and provide feedback on the draft principles and guidelines.

Stakeholder feedback has helped us to refine, improve and finalise the principles and guidelines – see what we’ve heard

Learn more

For more information, please see our fact sheets for the general public, providers and architects and designers.

Date last updated:

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