Yesterday I attended a roundtable event that expanded on an area JH Greene has been focusing on pretty heavily—senior living facilities and the unique needs of these spaces. There were some pretty engaging talks about major trends senior housing is seeing, many of which deviated from the expected safety and alert concerns.
Approximately 8% of baby boomers with a preference for generation specific facilities are adding a recent, dare I say, boom —to the market for communities with all residents’ needs in one place. With the end of the recession, seniors are certainly opting for these facilities more frequently. But what are the trends making one location more favorable than another?
Some major points I picked up (and found most interesting) were:
A general lack of ‘senior’ treatment
One key plus for a successful senior living facility is to dissociate with the negative connotation of a nursing home or end of life type organization. Resident-focused facilities understand that the surroundings of a community that are safe and aesthetically pleasing don’t have to be archaic and uncomfortable. There can be modern design and a bit of an edge. As Peter Fabris, contributing editor of Building Design + Construction puts it, “Design can help erase some negative preconceptions. Conveying a non-institutional look through the building’s design vernacular and finishes is a must. Designers also have to tailor spaces to meet the demands of seniors who want to keep fit—in body and mind.”
Accessibility to Amenities
Whether senior housing has its own stores/activities inside its grounds or outside in a shopping mall, the proximity to these centers is a huge value add (probably the largest value add within the control of a designer/architect). This means that through assessing what’s outside and filling the gaps within a facility’s own walls, a community can go a long way as far as gaining an advantage over the next guy. Let’s face it— competition is strong in senior living these days. This seemingly meaningless upper hand can make a difference.
Attention towards the Greenhouse Project Model
As Building Design + Construction sums it up, the Greenhouse project is a layout of facilities that has open areas that are common among groups of 10-12 residents, and a sense of family and camaraderie is built. These areas include kitchens, dining, and activity areas, but every resident receives their own bedrooms and bathrooms. Although this isn’t for everyone, a senior living space that has this type of format is a great choice for someone who doesn’t have many connections in a new place, or has lost touch with their friends. Without scheduled eating times and a regimen, these types of options are interesting to explore for facilities where residents would be open to it.
Some other areas discussed covered introducing hospitality-like design elements, which our team has also been seeing quite a bit in healthcare focused construction. Regardless of the trend, it’s exciting to see senior living break away from a dry, conventional format and seek to explore more innovative and open concepts. As a key player in senior living construction for facilities in the PA, NJ, and DE area, JH Greene looks forward to being a part of these developments.