Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing

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Space, Place and Flourishing

I have been wondering what to write as my 700th blog post on Clyde Street.

A link shared by my wife, Sue, provided the answer.

Jon Henley wrote in theguardian this week about a residential community near Amsterdam.

His article contains within it some of the issues that have become important for me in my growing interest in space, place and learning.

Jon reported on developments at Hogewey, “an innovative, humane and apparently affordable way of caring for people with dementia”.

Hogewey is a “smart, low, brick-built complex, completed in early 2010. A compact, self-contained model village on a four-acre site on the outskirts of town, half of it is open space: wide boulevards, cosy side-streets, squares, sheltered courtyards, well-tended gardens with ponds, reeds and a profusion of wild flowers. The rest is neat, two-storey, brick-built houses, as well as a cafe, restaurant, theatre, minimarket and hairdressing salon”.

There are 152 residents who have been classified as suffering from severe or extreme dementia. The residents average 83 years of age. Jon notes that “They live, six or seven to a house, plus one or two carers, in 23 different homes. Residents have their own spacious bedroom, but share the kitchen, lounge and dining room.”

Hogewey aims to “relieve the anxiety, confusion and often considerable anger that people with dementia can feel by providing an environment that is safe, familiar and human; an almost-normal home where people are surrounded by things they recognise and by other people with backgrounds, interests and values similar to their own”; and to maximise the quality of people’s lives by “Keeping everyone active. Focusing on everything they can still do, rather than everything they can’t. Because when you have dementia, you’re ill, but there may really not be much else wrong with you.”

There are 25 clubs, residents are encouraged to keep up with day-to-day tasks they have always done.

Hogeway has homes designed from seven “lifestyle categories” with moods evoked through choice of furnishing, decoration, music, and food. It is connected to its local community.

What I liked about Jon’s account of Hogeway was exactly what attracted me to Kevin McLeod’s ideas for The Triangle. I have learned it is possible to plan for and support personal difference through a commitment to the quality of life in a designed context. This has encouraged me to think about spaces and places for learning.

I felt very reassured by Hogeway and encouraged to think about dignity and care.

Photo Credit

Oma Zylstra, biking along the canal

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Performance Environments: Status and Immunity

I listened to Sir Michael Marmot on Radio National yesterday.

He was talking about the social determinants of health.

In part of his conversation he discussed social status, well being and disease risk. I was intrigued by his mention of a study of macaques.

Jenny Tung and her colleagues propose that social environment is associated with gene regulatory variation in the rhesus macaque immune system.

They point out that:

  • In humans and other primates, adverse social environments often translate into lasting physiological costs.
  • Dominance rank results in a widespread, yet plastic, imprint on gene regulation, such that peripheral blood mononuclear cell gene expression data alone predict social status with 80% accuracy.
  • These results illuminate the importance of the molecular response to social conditions, particularly in the immune system, and demonstrate a key role for gene regulation in linking the social environment to individual physiology.

In the introduction to their paper they note:

Social status in nonhuman primates is encoded by dominance rank, which defines which individuals yield to other individuals during competitive encounters. In settings in which hierarchies are strongly enforced or subordinates have little social support, low dominance rank can lead to chronic stress, immune compromise, and reproductive dysregulation.

On reading the paper I started to think about the way status is established in sport performance environments. I am now wondering what arrangements should be made to induct athletes into any performance context and to monitor their long term well being, particularly those who move from team to team.

Jenny Tung and her colleagues point out that:

Our results reinforce the idea that sensitivity to the social environment is reflected in changes in gene expression in the immune system, supporting an increasingly widely recognized link between neural, endocrine, and immune function. Moreover, our results demonstrate that these associations also appear to be highly plastic. Not only were gene expression data sufficient to robustly predict relative dominance rank but gene expression profiles also tracked dominance rank shifts closely enough to allow us to predict different rank positions for the same individuals across time. These observations indicate that any causal relationship between dominance rank and gene regulation likely begins with rank, rather than vice versa.

This paper reinforces my thoughts about the support needed for the personal journey of athletes and has refocussed my consideration about the post-athlete career part of their lives.

Photo Credit


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Discussing a Teaching Nursing Home Bid

We are discussing a bid for a Teaching Nursing Home at the University of Canberra today.

The discussions are being hosted and facilitated by Laurie Grealish.

Laurie has been working with Leigh Blackall to develop a Wikiversity page for the bid.

What has delighted me about the day has been the use of a Wikiversity open access page and Leigh’s use of UStream to webcast proceedings and MeetingWords to note discussion points..

There are a number of community groups involved in the workshop and it seems to me that the openness of the bid is a great model for community sharing and consumer directed care. This blog post is a contribution to that sharing.

The program for the day is:

13.00 Welcome, introductions 

Overview of the forum


Associate Professor Laurie Grealish, Chair
1315 UC and Engagement with the Capital Region Mr Lewis Jones, Executive Director, Office of Development, University of Canberra 


1330 Ageing and aged care in Australia Professor Diane Gibson, Dean Faculty of Health, University of Canberra 


1350 Preliminary work: Issues in residential aged care & Teaching Nursing Home Models Associate Professor Laurie Grealish 


1410 What could be done in the ACT Capital Region within a formal collaborative framework, known as the Teaching Nursing Home? 


Small group work
1440 Reporting back and discussion 


15.00 Afternoon tea 


15.15 What possible hurdles may exist? How might we address them at this early planning stage? 


Small group work
15.45 Reporting back and discussion 


16.10 Summary of the day: Where to next Associate Professor Laurie Grealish, Chair