Aged Care Standard 5 Organisation's Service Environment

Aged Care Standard 5 and the need to design service environments


Older people need to feel safe and comfortable where they live. Residential aged care services provide the environment in which many older people live and spend the last period of their life.  This InFocus highlights Standard 5: Organisation’s Service Environment. The environment needs to be well designed, welcoming, and inclusive as well as addressing the needs of those with aged related changes and increasing disabilities. There are palliAGED resources that can help you and your aged care organisation. 


Standard 5: Organisation's Service Environment

Standard 5 applies to organisations providing a physical service environment. It makes sure that the service environment, furniture and equipment support a consumer’s quality of life, as well as their independence, ability, and enjoyment.

The organisation’s service environment means the physical environment through which care and services are delivered. It does not include the person’s own home where in-home services are delivered.


Standard 5 Icon - Residential Aged Care

"I feel I belong and I am safe and comfortable in the organisation's service environment."

Consumer outcome statement for Aged Care Standard 5. Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website
The use of this image does not constitute an endorsement by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission of palliAGED activities.

The service environment for end of life

Even when people are in the last year of life and approaching death, they are still living. An environment where they feel safe and confident that the space and facilities can provide for their needs and can enable the involvement of friends and family is important.

Addressing Standard 5 can be simple things such as:

  • helping the person go into the garden
  • giving them access to a window to see the world outside
  • having a well cleaned and welcoming room where family can visit, or 
  • providing space for religious, cultural or spiritual practices.

Our latest palliAGED Aged Care Standards Insight looks at how space and place can influence care at the end of life.



"The organisation provides a safe and comfortable environment that promotes the consumer's independence, function and enjoyment.

palliAGED Resources for Standard 5

Aged care facilities are places where people do die and therefore the service environment must be suitable for care at the end of life. There are a range of palliAGED resources that can provide information and support knowledge and training. Many of these resources including learning opportunities for careworkers and nursing staff and organisational suggestions.

Environmental Modification

Place can play a part in care and healing. Factors such as architecture, the use of lighting and sound, the arrangement and kinds of furniture and objects in a room, the provision of spaces or rooms for art and music, the use of natural environments such as gardens. There is an evidence overview and practice resources on environmental modification. There is some information that can support how to think about suitable spaces for people with palliative care needs.

Dignity and Quality of Life

There is a complex interrelationship between dignity, autonomy and personal identity. The physical environment can influence the person’s sense of self-control even at the end of life. These issues were also discussed in the February palliAGED Insight article on Living well until death (231kb pdf). There is an evidence overview and practice resources in dignity and quality of life.

Spiritual Care

Spiritual care can also be supported by the physical environment. A place for reflection, for connection, and for cultural and spiritual practices can enhance well-being in the context of end of life. There is an evidence overview and practice resources relating to spiritual care.

Practice Tip Sheets

The following palliAGED Practice Tip sheets may also be helpful in ensuring safe care

Person Centre Care:
Advanced Dementia:
Faecal Incontinence:

ELDAC Residential Aged Care Toolkit

The Support Systems and Quality Improvement pages in the Organisational Support section of this toolkit has materials on policies and procedures that can help build a framework for end of life care. 

Read some of our Palliative Perspectives blogs related to aged care and end of life:

Appreciating diversity at the end of life

Dr Georgia Rowley discusses the importance of understanding specific considerations when caring for older diverse Australians in an end of life context, and how ELDAC can provide resources to help.

Tackling eye and mouth care during end of life

Karen Gregory from Resthaven Inc. discusses how routine comfort measures often though about at this time are around pain relief, comfortable positioning, skin care, urinary and bowel care, mouth and eye care. 


Making sense of care at the end of life: The ELDAC Care Model

Professor Jennifer Tieman discusses the ELDAC Care Model, its development, and how it can be used by aged care staff and services to provide quality care a the end of life. 

Trajectories of functional decline at the end of life. What do they tell us?

Dr Deidre Morgan from Flinders University discusses her recent study evaluating the trajectories of functional decline of Australian patients receiving specialist palliative care and how the findings can provide guidance about resource allocation.


A Common Set of ELDAC Clinical Tools

Paul Tait discusses how the ELDAC project has identified 12 commonly used clinical tools useful when caring for older people, with palliative care needs.


Caring doesn't stop just because a person enters residential aged care

Kay Richards and Rebecca Store discuss the importance of encouraging family and friends to stay actively involved in a person's life once they enter a residential aged care facility.


Page created 03 March 2020