Healthcare leaders and Industry CEO’s have made it clear that the world of Senior Living is changing. In this increasingly competitive industry, they emphasize that differentiating your community and services are crucial. The most drastic changes are a result of them listening to their customers and their families. We do the same at Bonneville Builders. We listen to our customers to learn and add value to our next project.
In the world of senior living, many people use “assisted living,” “long-term care” and “retirement home” interchangeably, however, the differences vary greatly. As a builder of these facilities, we have spent countless hours and resources learning and better understanding the nuances of each. As a result, we have become an expert and valued team member assisting owners, architects and operators in the design, function and efficiencies of these facilities.
Beyond listening to industry leaders, owners, and architects, it has been beneficial for us to understand their customers too. While the Nursing Home Standards Guide—issued in the 1960’s—sets regulatory standards and outlines recommendations for all federally licensed communities, our senior population has shifted and changed. Senior living communities have evolved and become tailor-made to meet the ever-changing needs and lifestyles of its residences. Here are three examples of changes that differentiate older facilities from newer senior living communities
Dining is a very important element in the lifestyle of assisted living residents. Alternative options to the old traditional buffet or cafeteria-style dining have emerged. Bistros are also a thing of the past and communities need to be innovative to attract a new generation of residents. Think “foodie,” we have blown up bistros and basically started over. Offering a selection of dining options provides residents with choice and makes them feel like they are visiting a resort. A variety of casual, formal, take-out and short-order dining options meet the needs of residents and will set communities apart.
Gone are the days of designing communities with large, wide-open common areas (Bingo Parlors), while neglecting intimate spaces. While a major appeal of moving into assisted living is the sense of community, there is still a need for private spaces where doors can be closed, and a sense of intimacy can be experienced. Whether residents want to “play cards with a few friends, have snacks with visiting church pals, or watch a football game with a few buddies,” having a private location, as opposed to a large common area is extremely important.
In years past, simulated reality in Memory Care Communities “such as fake porches, painted ceiling skies and pretend storefronts” was a stale trend that is on the way out. Faux doors to nowhere and shops that are unreachable are not beneficial for the health and welfare of people living with dementia and can in fact invoke confusion and distress.
Today, Memory Care Communities are meticulously designed so that patients can experience real freedom and security. These communities incorporate features such as courtyards complete with benches, rippling ponds, trickling fountains and vibrant seasonal flowers that make for an enhanced sensory experience. Rather than simulated reality, we are striving to create a positive environment, conducive to a senior’s comforts and needs,” including:
- Decorations and paint choices that incorporate soothing colors
- Distinct spaces, such as an activity, art and music therapy area, or a family visiting area
- Furnishings and spaces that resemble a community instead of a hospital
- Meals served in smaller dining rooms and at smaller tables to encourage conversation and minimize distraction
- Music to lift and relax the spirit
- Outdoor areas that are easily accessible, stimulating and safe
The Senior Living industry is very rewarding and continues to change with each project we are involved with. It is rich with diversity and always focused on the end result of providing quality care and experiences for our elderly. Not only is this segment of the market growing, but it has meaningful purpose filling a critical need in society. Bonneville Builders will continue to listen in hopes of adding value to this important sector of our community.