Whole-heartedly adopting the Butterfly Household Model (developed by Dr. David Sheard) for person-centred dementia care, the building facilitates a focus on interpersonal relationships and enables an emotional connection between carers and residents, through shared experience and communication.

Sited in the Southern Highlands south of Sydney, the home-like experience supports independence and comfort to people living with dementia. Completed in July 2019, the two 15 bed Dementia Cottages are part of Harbison’s larger aged care and seniors living campus in Burradoo.

All conventional institutional features, such as nursing stations, annunciators, medication trolleys, commercial kitchens, signage through to staff uniforms, have been removed. The cottages instead have high quality home-styled finishes, furnishing and dress, that nevertheless permit all the functional requirements of a high care facility.

This home-style living enables shared moments between residents and staff, removing any dominant power dynamics that are often present in traditional high care dementia facilities. Incorporated within the design is state-of-the-art fall detection (Smart Floor) in all resident rooms, integrated ergonomic grab rails to bathroom furniture produced from specialised antimicrobial materials, induction cooktop in open kitchen to prevent burns, cold mist ‘fire’ hearth, and circadian lighting technology through CBUS and provision for motorised window treatment.

Door treatment to suites is recognisable through individualised colours and customised number lettering, that reflects a front door rather than a conventional room door within a ward.

With a key driver being on producing a benchmark building for dementia care in Australia, the brief and design progressively evolved alongside the research to ensure that the latest principles and technologies were incorporated within the building and surrounding gardens.

Judges Comments

The judges agreed wholeheartedly that if dementia care was required for their relatives, that Harbison in Burradoo would be the most suitable facility. The cottage community is an outstanding example of how peace and tranquility can provide enrichment to those needing care. While many facilities that were visited provided a range of outdoor spaces, Harbison actively promotes outdoor activity for their guests, and this connection with the elements and nature generates a calm that prevails.