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Gary Turner - Director. Radio interview

Gary started his own practice in 1995, working mainly on residential, industrial, healthcare and leisure projects.

Audio Transcript

Chris West: Gary Turner of Turner Jackson Day Associates, they’re an architectural company who design buildings and sectors in residential, commercial, education and leisure. They’re based in Whitstable and Gary specialises, and has an interest in the care home sector.

A very good morning Gary.

Gary Turner: Hi Chris, good to talk to you.

Chris West: Now Gary, it’s a challenging time for everyone at the moment during the pandemic, but it’s been particularly difficult for the care homes.

When someone comes to you and they would like assistance in a care home scheme, what does that work normally involve?

Gary Turner: It varies to be honest, sometimes we’re asked to design a brand new care home facility, which is always very exciting, at the moment for example we’re looking at several large new build developments, we’ve got a 60 bed assistance living scheme in Ashford, for the local authority there, and we’re designing a 70 bed new care home up in Colchester. Often though we’re just called in to adapt or extend an existing home and the extensions normally range from the sort of 6 bed up to 30 bedroom extensions. Recently for example a client purchased a redundant care home in Ipswich, which was an ex local authority home, generally these are under standard, none of the bedrooms had ensuite facilities, they were all very small rooms, (about 10 square metres) so we extended the ground and first floors and put a new first floor over the top. The final scheme provided 66 ensuite bedrooms which were all about, well a minimum of 16 square metres, there was also a cinema there, a hair dressing room, library, coffee shop as well as numerous lounges and courtyard sensory gardens.

Chris West: Wow that sounds great.

Gary Turner: Other times were just called in to help make the homes compliant, which can be from a regulatory perspective, also occasionally get means of escape issues that get flagged up by the fire officer that the homes owners weren’t aware of.

Each project comes with its own challenges, we always try to strive to maximise the homes potential.

Chris West: Yes and how has the care home design evolved over the recent years, what positive impact has it had on residents?

Gary Turner: Well, care homes as we know them are quite a new concept. Historically people who needed care and could afford it, were looked after in their own homes and those who couldn’t , unfortunately were sent to the workhouses. I think it was in 1905, Royal Commission decided that the workhouses were no longer serving their initial purpose and local authorities were granted power to take them over and run them as municipal hospitals and care homes for the elderly. But by, I think it was 1960, just over 50% of the local authority care homes were still former work houses, so it was only sort of 20 years later, when Margaret Thatcher came into power that care provision for older people shifted to the Private sector. By 2000, about 85% of care homes were privately run.

These are now all regulated by the care quality commission which monitors, inspects and regulates hospitals and care homes and we’ve got the national minimum standards in place now which govern the principals of design for care.

Homes now offer incredible facilities for the residents. They’ve got cinemas, physio therapy suites, hairdressing rooms, some have even got therapy pools. Now also designed particularly for the needs of dementia patients which accounts probably for about 70% of the residents in homes at the moment.

Things have improved massively over the years, but there’s still room for a lot of improvement.

Chris West: Yes, some of them are like 5 star hotels aren’t they?

Gary Turner: Oh indeed, we’re working on some at the moment which are like going to a nice boutique hotel, yes lovely environments now.

Chris West: What is the future for care homes and what will they look like?

Gary Turner: Well, prior to Covid, there was already a funding crisis within the care sector, more than 30 years after social care became one of the first public health services being privatised, the shortfall in funding has pretty much reached crisis point, which is putting a lot of pressure on care homes and hospitals as well.

Care for the elderly isn’t free, it forces people to search for care.

90% of care is now privately owned, so it’s either single families or large private equity chains. Fees have been rising above the rate of inflation, mainly due to the running costs which account for 80% of the fees for the homes. There’s been a number of consultations and independent commissions since 1998, to sort of try and grabble with the issues of how to provide a sustainable adult care system, which at the moment is costing the government about £23 billion a year in England alone and Care England is pushing for a £7 billion a year to try and resolve these issues, so that’s crucial really.

Obviously care homes have been badly hit by covid, we now need to deliver an even higher quality environment with the flexibility to respond to any future outbreaks. I feel we’ve been designing homes with smaller household hubs, to try and keep it down to 8-10 residents, so they’ve all got their own common areas, so that when you’ve got staff and visitors coming in they’re not walking through other households, which will help to try and reduce the risk of any future infections.

Also homes for the future they’re going to have to try and harness assisted technology as well and create more sustainable living environments for the residents.

During covid we’ve seen the massive advantage of Skype and Facetime and this is probably going to evolve into 3D holograms. We’ve got wearable technologies at the moment, they can monitor the heart rate and steps and distances etc. of the residents. They’re soon going to be able to monitor respiratory rates and fluid retention, so they’re be able to sort of 'sense' potential heart conditions quite early on.

Chris West: That’s fantastic.

Gary Turner: Over in Japan at the moment they’re creating robots that are being used in care homes, there’s one call Paro, which is being developed to work therapeutically with people living with dementia. They’ve also got another one called Robear that performs specific care tasks in the care homes over there, so that can help with lifting people from their beds, helping residents to stand. So the future of care is going to be extremely exciting and it’s all about trying to create architecture that will deliver environments that we all want to occupy in our old age.

Chris West: That’s fantastic, well the future sounds really good.

Now Gary if people want to get in touch with Turner Jackson Day Associates, how do they do it?

Gary Turner: If you just look on our website, if it’s care related, obviously ask for me but any other sectors, just feel free to ring through and speak to myself, Alex or Michael.

Chris West: Lovely well thank you very much for talking to us it was really interesting.

Gary Turner: Thank you, take care.


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