POST C – Primary research

Part A:

I chose to visit Chatswood, a Sydney suburb with a large Chinese population. A major observation was the gathering of elderly Chinese people on in an outdoor, astro-turfed environment, in the concourse which is central to shops, restaurants, a concert hall, theatre and library. In this small area was a large gathering of both young families and elderly people. I noticed that pairs of Chinese ladies or a male/female couples would be quietly sitting and watching over their grandchildren (presumably). This reinforced my understanding that the elderly have strong familial values, gaining fulfilment from interacting with their younger family members. A design opportunity in this context would be the provision of seating appropriate for less-mobile individuals, as people currently were seated on steps and the rough ground.


Grandparents sitting on the ground, in the same space as young mothers and small children.  Seating here is inefficient, as it faces away from park area, limiting children supervision.


Elderly couple and child.


Elderly Chinese man navigating Chatswood’s streets. I noticed no elderly civilians made the walk out of the central area up the hill to a large park.

A medical centre frequented by the elderly. Wheelchair access and Chinese translations made it accessible for the elderly Chinese population.

Part B:

I Interviewed my grandparents Walter and Liesel Gibian, who are an Austrian elderly couple living in Manly, Sydney. The interview was of relaxed ambience and took place in a hospital room as Liesel was recovering from surgery. Despite the situation, the interviewees were positive and talkative.

A major point that came from discussion was their sense of physical wellbeing, whereby a concern for them was keeping fit and active. To keep motivated, Walter and Liesel belong to fitness groups, such as aqua fitness, walking groups and personal training. This contributes to their physical wellbeing and establishes a sense of belonging to the community.

Walter and Leisel are a part of a big family, which is their “first priority” in their retired lifestyle. They feel very connected to their home and the environment, making efforts to visit the Blue Mountains every few weeks and immerse themselves in nature, which they believe is very important to their emotional wellbeing.

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A photo I took of Liesel enjoying the fresh Blue Mountains air (Sept. 2016). Walking outdoors on uneven ground can be challenging with hip and knee probelms.

With their youngest grandchildren growing up and needing less attention, Liesel believes they have “entered a new phase”, and she believes it will be important to stay busy and motivated. As a retired artist, she aspires to create more art, “as an act of meditation” to distract her from worrying. This point illuminates the issue of anxiety in elderly people, which is experienced by both Walter and Liesel due to their fear of losing friends or their partner.

Interestingly, Walter stated that he finds technological innovations “an exciting challenge”, and has embraced the occurrence of smart phones and the digital age. He is updated on the most recent versions of smartphone, computer and photographic technology, showing that despite age his mind is sharp and willing to adapt to change.

Conclusively, it seems that Walter and Liesel face some physical and psychological challenges, yet for the most part enjoy a strong sense of wellbeing in relation to the Quality of Life Profile.

Posted in C: Primary Research - Sydney

Moonlight Dances and a Seasoned Musician.


Within my own home suburb of Rhodes, NSW, there is a large number of Chinese people. Living close by the water I get a fantastic view across the bridge to small park by the water of which many elderly people partake in evening activities. All to themselves, the noise from the bridge becomes merely a murmur across the sandstone pavements and the croaky boardwalk. A short walk across the bridge gives me insight into a rather amusing event.

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The Meadowbank footbridge at night, and the last few participants to leave.

First I heard the rough, low quality of a cassette radio (propped up beside what became clear as a very new adidas sports-bag—which I was very impressed by and slightly envious of) blaring-out some—of what I can only assume were—Chinese pop songs.


1. “Cassette/Radio and an old-school adidas training bag… too nice of a detail to miss”.        2. “This was actually inter-generational… predominantly elderly but a whole community event”.

This was followed by the visual of maybe thirty elderly people dancing in what looked like a jazzercise routine at -200x the speed. I giggled at the matching, polyester-tracksuit clad clan processing and shuffling through this routine for what seemed to last just over an hour. Which upon further thought, is quite an impressive length of time to exercise, for a group with a median age I could only assume was 65.


“Grouped together, repeating simple, slow actions”.

Although it seemed too obvious and obtrusive to take photos of the crowd, I found it very interesting to sketch and watch the way in which they all, rather graciously, moved between each action as one cohesive group. And more particularly the way in which they almost seemed to meld perfectly in with the wharf, the muted street lights and the park surrounding them, almost as if they created the park solely for their purpose.



“1.. 2… 3.. KICK!  This bizarre little conga-line”.

I did note some younger folk amongst the crowd, perhaps three or four, of whom I could only assume were their children and grandchildren. They only became clear as they did shy away from the more ‘embarrassing’ dance moves. These younger people and two ladies at the end of the session—having a rather secretive chat by the edge of the wharf— where the only things that seemed so unnatural to that setting.

Overall it was almost relaxing for me to simply watch this crowd, connecting on a very slow, precise and non-serious level, and believe this was the community/family bonding purpose of the activity, aside from the point to exercise.


I had the opportunity to interview my mentor, Steve Clisby, who I regard as a rather unconventional 71-year-old. As an active and long-time member of the international music industry—still performing, playing, writing, mentoring, and of course, learning as much as he can, whenever he can—Steve’s age is merely a number of experiences, not-conforming at all, to any standards, expectations or assumptions of an ageing citizen.

His incredibly positive, health-conscious, and age-less approach to life is what made me believe his opinions and view of QOL factors would be an interesting angle to explore.

Without even having to explain or ask about his physical, spiritual and psychological states of being (as complete or separate entities) Steve told me his approach and secret to life, as all three in one-go: “Always keeping my mind open to new ideas. Listening to and mentoring younger people. Physical fitness. Abstaining from alcohol, drugs and eating whole foods.”. Regarding his health, music and relationships (family, personal and business) as the most important things in his life, his connection and activity within each of these three realms—psychological, physical and spiritual— of being and belonging are what make him regard his current place in life as his most fulfilling: “[I have] more envy of youth than fear, but no regrets. If I had it to do over again I think I’d prefer to be where I am”.

Steve told me how he hopes to “leave something behind that people will remember.” and still strives to “[write] a huge hit record I can be proud of and having a loving and supportive family. I’m still working on both”, showing a sense of aspiration and perhaps a mild sense of un-fulfilment that his age may start to put pressure on; a side to him that may otherwise not be so obvious.

He paused for a moment in our interview just after the previous question, only adding “I feel comfortable in the fact that regardless of where I am at the moment I’ve done the best with what I’ve had to work with. No regrets! I never had a plan B…[I am] competitive and being fearless in attaining your goals and being gracious in defeat.” values he tells me are from his US upbringing. Yet, his strong sense of belonging can only be considered as worldly. Steve is not only a switched-on, but well informed and nurtured by his existence as a global citizen.

Perhaps the most poignant message in our interview came at the sweet last moment. “I was raised in California, grew up in Holland and live in Australia. [I’m a] citizen of the world I guess. The goal is to feel at home in your own body.”. It seems to me, after our conversation as though Steve’s incredible physical, mental and psychological health is a reflection of his life of experiences and reflection of his incredibly interesting life, at that.

Steve also offered to play me one of his favourite songs:

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Posted in C: Primary Research - Sydney, Uncategorized

Geographical Disparity, Family and Tradition, and Knowledge.

China’s geographical vastness and the distinct social and cultural dichotomy—between metropolitan and rural areas—that comes with it, has a great effect on the health of the ageing population of the nation. In regards to the differences—the opportunities and limitations—of living within the respective regions of the country, with the elderly in rural communities at a clear and incredible disadvantage to those living within the country’s main cities (Yuan 2010).

fo-china3.jpgPhotography by Nathan VanderKlippe. Available here.

The traditional approach to aged-care in China is for children to “care for their parents through old age, as demonstrated in the Chinese expression yang er fang lao, meaning ‘raise children to provide for old age’” (CSIS n.d), as opposed to “letting care centers do the job” (Li 2011). As a result of this deeply-rooted traditional value, only a small amount of government funding is directed towards aged-care. However, China now has to deal with the reality of potentially having too few children to support (physically and economically/financially) the rapidly aeging population. (Li 2011). Additionally, there has not been a significant shift or ‘popularisation’ of  “health education and promotion of healthy behaviours…among the elderly Chinese population, both in urban and rural areas. (Yuan 2014). Consequently, of the 202 million elderly people living in China—as of 2013—basic knowledge about health is quite low (Wang 2014), according to findings by the Chinese Ministry of Public Health, the 65–69 year olds having the lowest health literacy (3·81%) of all the age groups (CSIS n.d).

But how might these limitations imposed upon the elderly demand a solution, or provide opportunities for innovation in the health-care and aged-care fields? With an estimated 23% of the elderly in China unable to take care of themselves (CSIS n.d), the opportunity for increased service demands in three main sectors: the health sector, the product market, and infrastructure. The ageing population of China is generating a strong market for  “healthcare professionals who can ensure the delivery of quality services…[such as] home care, assisted living…and new tools, like electronic health records.” (Li 2011). However, aside from the obvious demands to health services of an ageing population, the market for elderly-centric products “as easy to operate home-appliances and digital products” (Li 2011) is set to boom. This ageing market may ultimately  develop an increased understanding of the the importance of diet and nutrition on individual health, opening up the market for products such as ‘Cholesterol reducing foods’ and ‘anti-aging products’. Given that more than 57% of China’s population is within rural areas (Yuan 2010), the infrastructure not only within the urban areas, but also the rural sectors will need to be updated, and re-considered to accommodate the increase rates of elderly patrons; “once their material needs are satisfied, older people will want their free time to be filled with more entertainment and leisure activities…[which] will thus likely boost demand for…[places] that provide entertainment and knowledge [and] senior focused service industries” (Li 2011).

83418214_custom-0b21016b9f752fe3b4b9644117744411e1988b4b-s900-c85.jpgImage author unknown.

This possibility that lies within the Chinese and wider global market for aged-care is particularly exciting for sectors such as design, providing the interesting challenge of how to incorporate modern technological advancements, cultural sensitivity, health, and traditional lifestyle factors into innovative and unprecedented methods of assistive aged-care, within an rapidly developing context.


CSIS. n.d. Does China have and Aging Problem?. China Power. viewed 30 October. Available at <>

Li, M. 2011. The Impact of China’s Aging Population. SERI Quarterly.

Wang, X., Chen, P. 2014. Population ageing challenges health care in China. The Lancet, vol 383, issue, 9920, pp 870.

Yuan, Z., He, X. 2010. Aging population and health inequalities in the rural areas of China. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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Posted in A: Secondary Research

Victoria State Government and Culturally Sensitive Aged-Care.

Aged-care can never be a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Particularly within such a multicultural nation as Australia, there is a strong need to adopt an incredibly culturally sensitive and aware aged-care system in order to accommodate the myriad of physical/social/psychological requirements of its patients—particularly CALD patients. To ultimately interact “effectively with people in providing quality care, despite different social backgrounds, cultures, religions, and lifestyle preferences” (Chenoweth 2006), the Victoria State government shows that a much more comprehensive and in-depth approach to cultural sensitivity is needed in the aged-care sector to ensure its overall success and respect of our ageing communities.

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A Screenshot of the Victorian State Government Website. Available here.

The Victoria State government’s focus towards culturally sensitive aged-care is—perhaps not so much unprecedented, however—important enough within an ageing, multicultural society to note, with one of their three key goals as “improving access and quality of service responses for our diverse older population.” (Victoria State Government 2015). This strong leadership in the field of aged-care is necessary not only for the simple reason of being able to fully communicate and address the needs of a diverse and ageing population, but to also to fulfil our moral obligation to  provide an additional level of dignity and peace to the elderly in our communities, recognising the “essential humanity in all persons whatever their cultural background” (Zoucha & Husted 2000).

The ANCI (Australian Nursing Council Inc.) competency standards state “the principles to achieve culturally competent nursing care…require nurses to respect the values, customs, spiritual beliefs and practices of all individuals and groups” (Chenoweth 2006). With the focus of how best to maintain the independence of a patient being through assistive measures, and non-intrusive methods (Miletic et al 2006), the suggestion is towards a stronger effort on the part of the health-care provider, to eliminate potential stress to/disempowerment of the patient. As suggested in Aged Care And Cultural Diversity, this ‘disempowerment’ occurs when “independence is not permitted…our cultural patterns and rules of behaviour are unwritten, so being mindful and accepting of our differences is essential” (Aged Care And Cultural Diversity 2009).

Working around nuances of not only verbal communication (language barriers), but also non-verbal modes of communication (“learn about the cultural nonverbal communication rules… [in] many cultures eye contact and touching is inappropriate…some [hand] movements have different meaning for certain cultures and may cause misunderstandings or offence” (Aged Care And Cultural Diversity 2009)) within the diverse Australian ageing population are also highlighted by the Victoria Government as much more complex to address than simply providing a bilingual physician or interpreter (Victoria State Government 2015). The Victoria State Government’s Health Department’s websites’ ‘Tip Sheets’ even suggest culturally sensitive ways to approach discussions surrounding specific health topics with Cultural stigmas surrounding them and calls for health-care providers to “be sensitive when discussing issues that may have cultural significance to your client” (Miletic et al 2006).

This in-depth exploration and investment to provide patients (particularly those of CALD backgrounds) with the most understandable and all-encompassing care possible is a fundamental focus of the Victoria State Government’s Health Sector. Highlighting the complexity of the needs of a culturally diverse ageing community and how best to address them, the Victoria State government gives an example of how the investigation of cultural nuance and cultural sensitivity can make headway for a better and improved way of life for ageing populations within multicultural and cross-cultural societies.

All of the Victoria State Government’s information is readily available on <> making the learning tools of this approach towards a more culturally sensitive aged-care system seamless and accessible.

1 CALD: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
2 The Assessment of Older People with dementia and depression of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds: A review of current practice and the development of guidelines for Victorian Aged Care Assessment Services (funded by the Victorian Department of Health; undertaken by the National Ageing Research Institute, 2011)


Aged Care And Cultural Diversity 2009. Stephanie Charewicz, Victoria (Australia): Video Education Australasia.

Chenoweth, Y., Jeon, M., Goff, C. 2006. ‘Cultural competency and nursing care: an Australian perspective’. International Nursing Review, vol 53,  Issue 1, pp. 34–40

Miletic, T., Piu, M., Minas, H., Stankovska, M., Stolk, Y., & Klimidis, S. 2006. ‘Guidelines for working with interpreters in mental health settings’. Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit, Victoria.

Victoria State Government 2015, health.vic, ‘Ageing and Aged care’, viewed 28 October, <>

Zoucha, R. & Husted, G. 2000. ‘The ethical dimensions of delivering culturally congruent nursing and health care’. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, vol 21, pp. 325–340.

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Posted in B: Aging Best Practices, Uncategorized


China has developed a large consumer culture and with this has arose an experienced and knowledgeable consumer base who are seeking speciality brands developed from creative locals. The fashion label ShoKay created by Marie So is one such brand which appeals to the market through its sustainable and ethical practices.

ShoKay means ‘yak down’ and is the world’s first socially responsible fashion label which develops products from this fibre (Skoll 2015). Previously, yak down was an untapped resource in the fashion industry and ShoKay has worked directly with the farmers in western China to improve their quality of life while making high-quality goods. So’s company purchases the fibres directly from the Tibetan herders which has provided the herders with a 30% increase in their income (Wong 2011). As yaks shed naturally every year, there is zero pollution in this process. The fibres are then cleaned, dyed and spun into yarns. During the dyeing process the products are tested to ensure that they meet international health and safety standards to minimise risk to the environment and workers (Wong 2011). The yarns are then hand knitted or woven into luxury products by women living in rural areas, which provides them with long-term employment and income. Finally, 1% of its revenue is put towards a Community Development Fund which support the needs of rural Tibetan communities (Wong 2011).


Image 1: Local women weaving yak yarns (ShoKay 2015)

Brands such as ShoKay are becoming increasingly important in the Chinese market place as consumers become more aware of their goods and the ethics behind them and therefore become more open to sustainable fashion (Qin 2014). Currently, some of the most brand conscious consumers are young Chinese people (Kuo 2016). This consumerist culture causes these young adults to become strongly affiliated with brands and to expect values which they can respect. As a result of inundation consumers are moving away from western high-end brands in order to develop their own sense of style among creative and cultural Chinese brands (Qin 2014). This is where ShoKay strives as it incorporates a traditional Chinese way of life with strong principles to create a desired high-end product.

Overall, So has revolutionised the yak yarn industry through the ethical and sustainable business approach to manufacturing and training. She has created a brand that resonates with the changing societal values of the Chinese population as they become more affiliated with brands of cultural and innovative standing.


China30s n.d., Interview SHOKAY founder Chyau: “social enterprise” to “sustainable fashion”, China, viewed 5 November 2016, <;

Kuo, Y. 2016, 3 great forces changing China’s consumer market, Hong Kong, viewed 5 November 2016, <;

Shokay 2012, Community Development, viewed 5 November 2016, <;

Skoll 2015, Shokay International Group, China, viewed 5 November 2016, <;

Qin, L. 2014, Sustainable fashion can help cut textile waste and pollution, China, viewed 5 November 2016, <;

Wong, Z. 2011, Shokay Creating luxury yak-down products to alleviate poverty in Western China, USA, Cornell University


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Posted in D: Chinese Contemporary Culture, Uncategorized

The Desire of Socialising

Part A: Observation


I undertook an AEIOU observation of Chinatown to conclude with the following findings.

On Sunday evening Chinatown was very lively, filled with people of a variety of age groups, including the elderly. Upon my observations of the older generation I found that they tended to most commonly walk in pairs, with the aid of a walking stick or with a family. They moved much slower than the rest of the crowd and often stopped to look around or interact with objects nearby, this included the heaters near the tables at restaurants which many elderly people came up to warm their hands near. I also noted that if they were accompanied by younger generations they would play a passive role in activities such as dining.


Photographs in Chinatown


I mapped the interactions the elderly had with various people and places. Their movements are represented through the dots

Part B: Interview

In order to gain an understanding of how people aged 65+ maintain a sense of being, belonging and becoming, I interviewed 72-year-old widow Barbara McEvoy. Barbara is a highly social person and is currently a part of a weekly coffee group, a craft group, a singing group, a swimming group and a group of friends she went to school with. When asked When asked how many friendship groups in total she is a part of Barbara answered “Umm probably six”.


A photograph of Barbara (3rd from left) with her group of friends from school. Courtesy of Barbara McEvoy.

Each of these groups allow Barbara to feel a sense of belonging within her community causing her to feel “healthier and happier”. Barbara then goes on to state that “I am more informed because I am mixing with people” therefore developing her sense of becoming as she experiences a wide range of people each day. Barbara also isn’t shy of technology “I’m in constant contact with my friends and family on the phone and on my ipad… I enjoy that”, most of her interactions with her grandchildren are through Facebook and this way she can keep up to date and play an active part in their lives. Overall, Barbara has demonstrated how being, belonging and becoming can be brought together and maintained through constant communication and socializing with a variety of people.

In regards to her challenges Barbara does admit that she could benefit from some home-care so that she can relax more. When speaking of the home-care Barbara did seem to be put off due to the lengthy process “it’s not expensive if It’s subsidized by the government, that is once it’s approved and assessed”. Barbara overall doesn’t seem to have complete trust in the medical system and is on a private health fund “for the simple reason that I don’t think my needs would be addressed otherwise and if they were, sometimes it’s too late to help you”. Her concerns express the concerns of many elderly people whose needs are not being met due to an overpopulated health system. This expresses the need for innovation in this sector as the world’s population ages.

Overall, Barbara has been able to maintain her well-being through the various activities she does throughout the week. While she worries about her physical health, she is encouraged by the people around her and has plans for the future including overseas travel. Upon the conclusion of our interview Barbara blurted without prompt “Oh and Christmas, I love Christmas!” thus encapsulating her desire for socializing.

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Posted in C: Primary Research - Sydney, Uncategorized

Sweden: No. 1 for treatment of the elderly

Innovation in elderly care is seen in many countries around the world. Sweden is one country displaying a variety of initiatives to assist the care of the elderly and as such was ranked number one for the treatment of the elderly in a 2013 UN report (BBC News 2013). Swedish Care International (SCI) is at the head of care in Sweden and among other enterprises, has developed a model for nursing homes that sets the international standard.

Vigs Angar is an example of an SCI nursing home and epitomises their ethos of care. The nursing home itself looks like a country farmhouse (SCI 2014). It features a large garden which allows the elderly to take part in gardening activities to provide a practical and social activity that can help to reduce dementia.

vigs-angar-gardenImage 1: Vigs Angar Garden  (SCI 2014)

The interior of the home features harmonious colours in browns and reds and has homely features such as candles and a cosy living room to make the residents feel as comfortable as they would be in their own home (SCI 2014).

interiorImage 2: Vigs Angar Interior (SCI 2014)

All of this contributes to the emotional well-being of the residents as they state that they feel as though they are coming to a family, contributing to their sense of belonging. This also ensures the nurses at the home experience a calm and friendly working environment which allows them to provide a high level of care for the patients (Adler et al 2013).

The nursing homes are as much about the concept and ethos as they are about the practical space that the residents live in. The SCI model has a holistic view of the patients, incorporating their physical, psychological, spiritual, social and cultural needs in the design of the building and services (Adler et al 2013). This is to encourage the nurses to ‘see the human behind the person’ so that each patient is treated with dignity and is respected regardless of their age (SCI 2014). The residents are consulted regarding all decisions including the budget, environment, facilities and menu. By allowing the residents to contribute to their lifestyle rather than just relying on the the institution or family members, they maintain a sense of dignity and improve their mental health as their worth is not diminished (SCI 2014).


Image 2: showing the vicious circle nursing homes can fall into. (Alder et al 2013)

Overall, the innovation of this model lies in the organisation processes and training of its staff to combat loneliness, helplessness and boredom often felt by the elderly. The stakeholder community that is built through the SCI model is unique and ensures that the elderly continue to maintain their quality of life and sense of self.


Adler, N. et al 2013, SCI Model For Elderly Care, Swedish Care International, Sweden

BBC News 2013, Sweden ranked first for treatment of elderly in UN report, UK, viewed 3 November 2016, <;

SCI 2014, Swedish Nursing Home Model, video recording, Vimeo, viewed 3 November 2016, <;


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Posted in B: Aging Best Practices, Uncategorized