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Jess Clarkson

DESIGN MANAGER

“We give people the tools and enable them to create their homes and the spaces that they want to live in.”

Photo of Jess Clarkson in a black top.

Jess arrived at Rocky Bay in November 2019 as an architect with a background working for well-known firms across Perth. So, when the opportunity to join Shift as Design Manager arose, Jess was determined to be on board. As Design Manager, Jess is responsible for translating user needs into the built environment, where her on-the-ground experience at Rocky Bay is invaluable to informing her work. Having spent a great deal of time observing both people living with disability and their care staff, Jess has direct practical insights into how care is delivered in homes. This knowledge is used to tailor each design to influence how the environment shapes daily experiences (for example, designing in private spaces in a co-living arrangement), rather than defaulting to social norms.

Jess’ combined experience has opened her eyes to the ‘institutionalised culture’ that sometimes exists in the disability housing sector, where people are placed in spaces that aren’t designed for their needs. As a society, we think we’re helping when we’re actually hindering day-to-day ability. For Jess, Shift was an opportunity to play a key role in breaking down the old ways of thinking by designing homes that enable carers to deliver the right amount of care, without overreliance of support.

This desire to walk in someone else’s shoes to view life from another perspective is crucial to the rewarding customer experiences Jess creates. A big part of this is the creative process that provides people with the tools and confidence to create the homes they want to live in. It’s all about human flourishing, inspiring staff and tenants to use the spaces in different ways. For Jess, the reward is hearing a family member rave about the positive change in their loved one, whether it’s a happier mood change, reduced reliance on medication, or the confidence to look for part-time work. When you build the right homes, you enable people to build other parts of their life too.

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