Memory Care-Assisted Living Developer Emphasizes Fluid, Adaptable Design

A senior living developer is emphasizing innovative technology and fluidity in memory care/assisted living community design rather than developing a stand-alone product, citing an industry and investors that “clearly value” housing and care continuums.

PinPoint Commercial is building communities that allow for adding or subtracting memory care or assisted living units based on current demand simply by relocating walls. That way, if the memory care units don’t fill up as originally projected or do better than expected, the flexible design allows the building to adapt to demand.

Outside of a few key things, there’s no reason why a memory care unit should be substantially different from an assisted living unit, says Charles Turner, a principal at PinPoint.

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The Houston, Tex.-based developer’s basic principle is that memory care and assisted living residents and their families will have the same wants and needs in their specific units, allowing for an easy transition between care types. While some symptoms of memory impairments may include an aversion to water or forgetfulness when cooking, it’s not difficult to shut off capabilities to a kitchenette in a unit slated for conversion.

The developer’s model uses a “main street” concept with a large central corridor and “neighborhoods,” each with their own theme.

Each neighborhood is very unique, says Turner, so that residents can identify with their surroundings. The different “pockets” are spread out throughout the building, so if the building needs to add or subtract a certain kind of room, they can move the outer, secured memory care wall to either encompass or exclude any number of units in between neighborhoods.

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There’s an additional benefit for the families of a memory care residents.

“The family member who’s visiting doesn’t have to feel like, ‘Oh, Mom’s in the memory care area,’” says Turner. “Outside of the secure doors, nothing is materially different.”

PinPoint Commercial and Thrive Senior Living, the company tapped to manage the new communities, are collaborating on nine projects: four communities that are up-and-running in Texas, Georgia, and Florida, and five more that are under development or in the works in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. The companies are emphasizing the use of technology in caring for residents.

Each community will feature touch-screen computer systems for residents who have Alzheimer’s or other memory impairments, along with wireless caregiver alert systems, resident monitoring systems that use infrared motion detectors and bed sensors, and bracelet-operated wireless RFID (radio-frequency identification) door entry systems.

Investor and lender response to PinPoint’s fluid designs has been very positive, according to Turner.

“In the lender and REIT community, some are very wary of the stand-alone memory care community concept that seems to be proliferating everywhere,” he says, “We’ve toyed with [the stand-alone concept], but it concerns me. If it doesn’t work as memory care, then you’ve got a big rebranding job on your hands.”

Many lenders love the continuum of care concept PinPoint is developing, he says, because if units don’t work as memory care, or vice versa, there’s an ability to adapt.

“It’s all about flexibility on your design, construction, in your market, for your residents, being able to provide the right levels of care for those residents,” Turner says.

“The wisdom of developing memory care in conjunction with assisted living is the diversification from a development standpoint,” said Bernie Smith, COO of ProMatura Group, in an email to SHN. “We typically advise developers who want to do stand-alone memory care to have a clear exit strategy in the event that some cure is found for dementia.”

He referenced HIV/AIDs as an example: At one point, public fear was that the disorder would reach epidemic proportions, but then the developed medication and treatments took those concerns off the mind of most of the population.

“If the same thing were to happen with dementia, a property that offered both memory care and assisted living would likely have an easier transition out of the specialized dementia care than a stand-alone property,” Smith says.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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