Case study: Heat friendly infrastructure at aged care facilities

Built environment Health Community South East Queensland (West) South East Queensland (South) South East Queensland (North) Mackay Isaac Whitsundays North Queensland

The Queensland Government continues to work with industry partners to lead climate action.

Through its Sector Adaptation Planning Plus (SAP+) funding program, this heat-friendly infrastructure project was led by University of the Sunshine Coast, Griffith University, and UnitingCare Queensland.

Focused on mitigating heat stress at aged care facilities (where 1 in 10 Australian seniors reside), this project had important outcomes including:

  • environmental benefits
  • positive health and wellbeing benefits and outcomes for residents and staff
  • increased environmental and social responsibility credentials, and
  • potential cost-savings on health, operations and maintenance.

The two-staged project was focussed on developing model heat adaptation plans (HAP) for outdoor areas at aged care facilities (ACF).

Stage One involved a pilot study of two ACFs on the Sunshine Coast and identified ‘hot spots’ for intervention and possible strategies including:

  • smart technology (digital heat sensors, anemometers, and a thermal camera) to measure heat and thermal comfort over a year
  • a unique integrated audit tool, developed to incorporate green infrastructure, safety and accessibility criteria applied to individual sectors of each ACF
  • interviews of staff and residents
  • consultation with staff and residents on draft strategies and indicative designs.

Stage Two involved consultation with staff in eight ACFs in more densely built areas of Southeast Queensland and hotter areas of Central and Far North Queensland.

During this second stage, the audit tool and strategies were tested in different environments and two-page assessment and options documents were provided to each ACF.

This project’s outcomes included the creation of:

  • a new publication ‘Guidelines for Preparing a Heat Adaptation Plan using Green Infrastructure’, and
  • a unique integrated environmental audit tool that assesses cooling, access and safety.

While these tools were prepared for ACFs, they can be used in a wide range of settings.

Read further information on Climate Change Adaptation.