More and more I am facing the challenges of independent living settings that need to meet the requirements of assisted or nursing. Not from a code standpoint but from a care standpoint.
With home health moving from the home to independent living, there is a growing need for design to change from standard apartment to “senior friendly.” To that extent, several long-term care providers have started home healthcare offshoots that not only support their residents in independent living but also gain access to those needing assistance in their homes as a feeder for their homes down the road.
We are seeing more fragile assisted living residents that border on the needs of skilled nursing patients from 15 years ago. This means that those waiting to entering into assisted living/skilled nursing have greater needs than we have seen in the past.
How does this affect the design professional? Considerations need to be taken specifically for senior residents and, although ADA is a good place to start, it’s not the only place. Universal design is actually ideal because it offers great value, and a blending of the two is the best plan. Design needs to step past apartments with security and a common interior city center. Independent apartments need to be flexible in their design, engage in an open plan, increase lighting, use easy turn/grip handles, and consider heights of all items, including the sinks, stoves, washers & dryers, showers, shelving, and cabinets.