Creating the right impression with your sign system

At many senior living facilities, change is constant. Rooms are repurposed and redesigned. Residents are always moving in, moving between rooms, and moving on.

Every one of these changes affects your signage needs. That’s why, if it’s been a while since your signage system was updated, it’s probably time for a refresh. After all, your signage is your constant connection to every resident, visitor, and staff member. To create the right impression on all these people, your signage must roll with the changes.

Here are some important things to consider as you work to update your signage system.


Wayfinding refers to the movement, behavior, and decision-making process people use as they navigate your facility. It’s a complex and interconnected planning challenge.

When a resident or visitor enters the building, he or she should be able to get around easily without feeling lost or frustrated. If there’s a positive experience, it’s likely the resident will remain with the facility and tout it to friends, and families are more likely to approve of the living situation.

“A successful signage system must also master the fundamentals of each sign—color, copy, and construction.”

Given the constant evolution of long-term care facilities, you should look for an interior wayfinding system that allows for easy changes. For example, many components of a system can be altered with paper inserts that you can print at your facility.

Your signage also should blend in with the architecture, décor, and ambience of your building. Good project planning, including consultations with a proven wayfinding provider, can help ensure your signs accentuate the style of your facility while fulfilling their critical wayfinding function.

ADA compliance

The signage regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act are about ensuring that everyone, regardless of disability, can get the information they need to navigate your facility.

Every interior space—lobbies, corridors, restrooms, stairwells, offices, conference rooms, elevators and more—must comply with extensive ADA signage stipulations, including:

· Sizing and dimensions

· Installation height and location

· Type styles and spacing

· Materials and finishes

· Use of tactile lettering, Grade 2 Braille, and pictograms

These regulations are complicated, so make sure you work with a signage provider that has a record of experience and success in ADA compliance.

Sustainable signage

Today, facilities are seeking every avenue to reduce their environmental footprint and stay in step with market trends toward sustainable living and working.

To ensure these efforts are more than just marketing, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)—with its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program—has become the leading arbiter of sustainable practices in architecture.

Some sign companies are now offering products that can contribute to your eco-friendly initiatives and help you earn points toward LEED certification.

Examples include:

· Signs made from post-consumer recycled materials.

· Paints that are low in volatile organic compounds.

· Flexible sign systems that can be maintained with recyclable inserts.

· LEED displays that explain your facility’s environmentally sustainable aspects to visitors to help you earn education points toward LEED certification.

Sign Fundamentals

In addition to wayfinding, ADA, and sustainability concerns, a successful signage system must also master the fundamentals of each sign—color, copy, and construction.

These elements will determine whether your facility—and by extension your brand—projects a high-quality image.

Therefore, you should closely examine your signage provider’s design and fabrication processes. To ensure optimal aesthetics and performance over time, look for the use of top-quality materials from trusted brands, as well as fabrication by experienced artisans.

You’ll get a good sense of a signage company’s commitment to quality by visiting their facility and watching the production process in action. Don’t hesitate to do so, and get started updating your signage system today.

Paul Poblocki is vice president and general manager of the Milwaukee-based Poblocki Sign Company. He is responsible for the management and growth of the company’s Interior Sign Division, and has expertise in ADA compliance, wayfinding, permit procurement, and corporate changeovers. Paul Poblocki can be reached a 1-888-678-9995 or by e-mail at

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