A Message from the Principals in Response to COVID-19 Read More
Over the past three months, senior living communities across the country have weathered unprecedented conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As elderly residents are highly susceptible to the coronavirus disease due to age and underlying conditions, these communities must swiftly adapt as they look to the future of providing care in a post-Covid world.
As designers, we have the ability to assist in these adaptations through design solutions that create a safer environment and deter contamination from infectious diseases. Driven by economic factors and the need to foster socialization within these communities, residents are often placed in close quarters which can further the spread of infectious diseases. The design of private rooms, common areas, and outdoor spaces can all be adjusted to create a healthier environment.
Adjustments to these living arrangements are assessed constantly – Bernardon maintains a conscious effort to implement thoughtful, customized design solutions within each of our senior living projects – and now more than ever, our designers are committed to enhancing that approach in light of Covid-19. Below are design adaptations Bernardon designers recommend when considering updating a senior living community in response to a pandemic:
While not always ideal, quarantining has proven to be an effective measure against infectious diseases such as coronavirus. However, it’s important to remember that quarantine does not always have to equate to strict isolation. Incorporating different types of groupings – from private rooms to “neighborhoods” within a unit – offers a variety of livable spaces for residents to use, and also temporarily isolate when needed. The design should be flexible enough to create these groupings for all residents; and, can be part of a larger scope throughout the facility and divided when necessary. We suggest considering the following options:
In addition to quarantining, limiting interactions with others – again, not always desirable – has proven to be another effective defense against widespread infectious disease. Providing socialization for residents remains a priority within senior living communities as it improves both overall health and quality of life. However, common areas often create opportunities for contamination, so it’s important to address how elements of these areas can be designed to respond to a potential outbreak:
Following the Covid-19 outbreak, studies were conducted on the transmitting virus, known as SARS-CoV-2. One study focused on how long SARS-CoV-2 can last on surfaces ranging from plastic to stainless steel to wood. According to Healthline.com, the studies reported that the virus can last on these various surfaces from 24 hours up to 7 days. While surfaces can’t simply be eliminated, we suggest incorporating surfaces and adaptations that promote easy cleaning:
When it comes to responsive design in the wake of an outbreak, creating space sometimes isn’t always enough. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a vital need, and while we as designers can’t provide the physical PPE necessary, we can create environments that support its use and effectiveness. Equipping communities with these measures will ensure the safety of both staff and residents:
To reinforce the effectiveness of the design approaches mentioned above, we suggest incorporating technology to enhance communication between staff and residents. To abet the unpredictability of rapidly spreading infectious disease, telecommunications can serve as a vital part to the design:
At the early stages of designing a senior living community, considering these approaches – especially in response to a widespread pandemic – will help foster a safer environment for both the residents and staff. Incorporating responsive design while still creating a residential environment that feels like home might just be the best design defense for senior living communities. No matter how much isolation infectious disease prevention may require, coming together to create a safe and healthy environment will help to provide seniors with a comfortable, engaging living community to enjoy.
If you’re interested in discussing solutions for your senior living community, contact one of our designers here.< Return to Blog