Life safety = quality of life

Flooding, tornados, hurricanes, fires and terrorism—we live in volatile times in a volatile world. As I traveled last week to the annual National Fire Protection Association Conference & Expo in Boston, I experienced a heightened awareness of how fragile our world is these days. As a designer for senior living, I have a renewed sense of responsibility for creating and managing environments that are safe and secure for our seniors.

These environments must also enable our staff in protecting our patients and residents from the dangers that this crazy world offers. As the acuity levels continue to increase in nursing homes, our frail residents are more and more dependent on their caregiving staff, especially in emergency situations. The concept of protecting in place is counter intuitive to what we learn as designers in the architectural world. Our efforts in creating safe buildings must result from a collaborative effort involving staff, family members, residents and designers. Anyone who has experienced a disaster in a nursing home is very aware of the issues and realities that must be taken into account.

This year at the NFPA annual meeting, we voted on the final version of the 2012 Life Safety Code. This will probably be the next version of the code that is adopted by CMS. The Pioneer Network put together some key components to be included in the 2012 code that underpin efforts in person-centered care.

At the end of the day, living and working in safe environments does contribute to quality of life for residents and their caregivers. As Chief Development Officer, Elliott serves on the Executive Leadership Team for Vetter Health Services ( He oversees planning, design, construction and facilities management in 33 senior living campuses in the Midwest. Elliott is currently Vice President of the SAGE Federation and serves on the AHCA Life Safety Committee. He recently served as a juror for the 2011 Long-Term Living DESIGN competition.

Topics: Regulatory Compliance , Risk Management