As senior living providers look for design solutions to build and renovate existing properties, they are also using interior design elements with a specific eye toward one very important part of senior living: moving in.
Sunrise Senior Living has an ongoing effort under way to enlist both its design and facilities teams to streamline the move in process for all residents and help those who already live in Sunrise communities.
“Spaces are designed on purpose and thoughtfully to bring as much as a residential character and feel to it as possible. We have a staff of experienced experts for whom it is their role,” says Andy Coelho, senior vice president, facilities.
While units are not being designed necessarily to mimic the former homes of Sunrise residents, those residents are encouraged to bring as much of their own furniture, accessories and wall decor as they would like.
Sunrise takes care of some of the detail, too.
“Of course we want to create a ‘home-like’ environment, but it will never be [the same as their former] home. First and foremost, from each resident profile, we collect information about prior environments and interests,” says Samantha Lawrence, Sunrise director of program services. “That way, we can help to personalize the space with them.”
For pet owners, that may mean equipping a unit with a food dish or toys. Sunrise also installs new paint and/or wallpaper to the resident’s liking.
“It’s all about choice,” Coelho says. “If they want it to look like their bedroom they can do that and if this is a new chapter they have the freedom to do that as well.”
In addition to customizing units with paint colors, carpet, lighting and other standard decorating choices, Sunrise has worked to implement certain design features that make it easier to transition into its communities.
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Bathrooms feature a color contrasting wall that helps remind residents of the bathroom configuration; windows are equipped with anti-glare glass; showers are of the walk-in variety.
Features throughout the communities are also used to help new residents navigate their new surroundings. A hand rail to aid residents on foot include a little hole in the bottom to indicate an upcoming break in the rail while all thermostats are labeled in large print.
Knowing about a prospective resident’s needs and preferences in advance can also help during the sales and touring process by directing Sunrise to point out design features specific to each person.
“From the sales process on we want to collect that information so when [a prospective resident] is touring we can help her envision how she could live there,” Lawrence says.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker