We’re delighted to welcome Mark Garden on board as our Aged Care Design & Delivery Specialist.

Earlier this week we met and chatted with Mark and took the opportunity to ask him about what he sees as important in the built environment as aged care transforms, the increased consumer demands and how to meet and exceed them and how his new role with Total Construction will impact existing and new clients.

TC: Mark, you have been working in the aged care industry now for over 13 years and will have seen many changes in design and construct, best practice and sector trends. How do you see aged care environments transforming in the future and what elements do you feel are of significant importance?

Mark: There is no doubt that aged care environments have changed in the past decade, and certainly for the better.  We rarely see clinically designed long hospital like corridors with shared rooms or hear the seemingly ever-present call to arms of an intrusive nurse call or intercom system.  These have been replaced by the gentle tones of a home like environment, with welcoming neighbourhoods, smaller break out spaces with seamless indoor and outdoor, clever interiors and softer furnishings, relevant works of art with attention to detail in landscaping, bric-a-brac, and books. When all these elements combine, the home comes to life with peaceful places for families to enjoy their critical time together. 

I believe smaller home like clusters is here to stay, and with greater use of technology, despite all its initial challenges, will transform residential aged care forever more. 

The concept of improved food delivery processes is one of the most encouraging progressions.

The ongoing evolution of these initiatives’ present challenges to a building delivery business like Total Construction. 

TC: Are there any standout achievements that you are particularly proud of in your aged care career?

Mark: Yes, there have been a range of significant aged care and retirement village developments that I was intimately involved with that I am extremely proud of. A significant achievement is that most sites progressed through the rebuild with smiles all round, with delighted and excited residents and clients whose expectations had been exceeded. The most significant of these projects was a $70m plus development in Penrith that progressed from initial site acquisition to construction on site.

TC: Total Construction has a significant market share in the aged care industry with clients including Hammond Care, Advantaged Care, Salvation Army, Baptist Care, McKenzie Aged Care, Kopwa Aged and Community Care, Our Lady of Consolation. As their new Aged Care Specialist what is involved in your role?

Mark: Many of the changes in the aged care, retirement living, and the social and affordable housing environment include initiatives that can generate challenges to a building delivery business like Total Construction.  As an Aged Care Specialist I will be working with the teams both in the green field development side of the business and Total Care (refurbishments) to enhance the methodology and client journey and to ensure all aged care projects deliver outstanding results for all stakeholders.

TC: The construction industry really took and continues to take a hit due to COVID-19 so what does the first 6 months at Total Construction look like for you?

Mark: It has definitely been a very challenging year in all areas of business, including the construction and development industry.  Aged Care Providers have been under huge pressure as a result of the challenges presented by the Aged Care Royal Commission, ongoing downward pressure from a funding perspective, the effects of Covid-19 and not least of all the ever present delays experienced in obtaining DA approvals. 

Since late June I’ve been working with the team to understand their learnings and the impact Covid-19 has had on both working in live environment and also new developments and how we can apply these methodologies moving forward to future proof aged care environments against infection control and potential pandemics.

Overall, my early months at Total Construction will focus on engaging with our clients, and industry partners to see if and how Total Construction can assist with their future property and asset strategies. This could be anything from Total Care addressing BCA upgrades to footprint reconfiguration, and additions and extensions through to D&C for greenfield sights.

I will also be involved in Total Construction’s mentor program which will enable project managers that are new to aged care to obtain the knowledge, skills and leadership techniques to grow as aged care experts, excel in their careers and deliver outstanding projects in the future. 

TC: Did you choose Aged Care or did it find you?

Mark: A bit of both. I had already spent some 25 years in the construction industry mainly in the commercial sector. Due to personal circumstances I took the time to reflect and re-evaluate my future, and what I desired as long-term outcomes of my career. So I stayed in the industry I knew but made the decision to switch to the Aged Care sector and pursue a career in a world that offered more altruistic outcomes from the work I had previously been involved in. To be able to enhance the day to day lives of our elders through built form and the environment is a privilege and comes with great pride.

TC: What attracted you to Total Construction?

Mark: Total Construction is a very established and successful organisation. The values and culture of the organisation very much align with my own professional and personal values. My aspiration is to make a difference and produce positive outcomes for our elders. With Total Construction I saw an alignment to creating and developing a better-aged care system by improving the capacity of a construction business to deliver better outcomes. I have known Steve Taylor, the Managing Director of Total Construction for in excess of fifteen years and have remained in awe of his progressive approach to the development of his business. I was inspired and found It very hard to decline the opportunity when it was offered.

To connect with Mark about your next property and asset projects please call him directly on 0420 767 747 or email markg@totalconsutuction.com.au.

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