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.

Provide feedback on the draft Design Principles and Guidelines by 20 October.

National Aged Care Design Principles and Guidelines

We are consulting with older people, the aged care sector and design experts to improve the design of residential aged care accommodation. This is in response to recommendation 45 of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report.

These consultations are helping create a new Residential Aged Care Accommodation Framework. This includes National Aged Care Design Principles and Guidelines (Design Principles and Guidelines) to be introduced 1 July 2024.

Draft Design Principles and Guidelines have been developed following extensive consultation and have now been released. They provide a comprehensive, evidence-based resource to guide the design of accommodation that supports high quality, safe, respectful and dignified care.

The draft Design Principles and Guidelines include 4 design principles:

  • Enable the person
    Support people living in a place that maintains their health, wellbeing and a sense of identity.
  • Cultivate a Home
    Create a familiar environment in which people have privacy, control and feel they belong.
  • Access to 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.

Each principle is supported by a set of guidelines and checklists of practical changes. These can be adopted when undertaking minor refurbishments, major renovations, and constructing new aged care homes.


Findings from consultations with older people and their families and carers, the aged care sector, and design and technical experts informed the development of the draft Design Principles and Guidelines.

The first stage of consultations involved the release of two discussion papers and a design survey. A summary of feedback is available on the Aged Care Engagement Hub.

These findings informed the second phase of targeted consultations. This included interviews and focus groups with a wide range of stakeholders from October 2022 to January 2023.

We are currently seeking feedback on the draft Design Principles and Guidelines and factors likely to impact adoption. We are also seeking information from aged care providers through a Stocktake on the Design of Residential Aged Care Accommodation to understand what residential aged care accommodation looks like from a design perspective.

This information will be used to develop a picture of aged care homes, including where services are provided flexibly, in terms of their age, size, location, layout and physical attributes and characteristics. The information gathered will also inform the work of the Aged Care Taskforce. The Stocktake will remain open until 3 October 2023.

Later in the year we will be conducting a design ideas competition to test, refine, and generate ideas relating to the draft Design Principles and Guidelines. This will showcase what can be achieved through their application.

Benefits of the new design principles and guidelines

Older people

The new Design Principles and Guidelines will focus on creating more accessible, dementia-friendly and home-like living environments that aim to improve quality of life for older people living in residential aged care.

To develop the draft Design Principles and Guidelines, we have considered:

  • older people’s preferences
  • benefits of small-home models
  • dementia-friendly design
  • accessible design
  • suitability for diverse populations
  • location
  • innovation
  • appropriate safety features, including infection prevention and control.

Older people, especially those living with cognitive impairment or dementia, will benefit from better quality accommodation design and choice.

By adopting national Design Principles and Guidelines we will give people entering residential aged care greater confidence that the aged care home they choose will meet their needs.

Residential care providers and technical experts

With clear Design Principles and Guidelines to help guide capital works for both refurbishments and new builds from 1 July 2024, we can create environments that:

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

Keep in touch

To receive notification of future opportunities, please sign up to the Aged Care Engagement Hub.


Residential aged care accommodation design contact

Contact us for information about the residential aged care accommodation design consultation.
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