Many senior living operators have become more motivated coming out of the pandemic to promote wellness and health for residents. Evidence has shown that the designs of communities and how they get built play a big part in supporting health and wellness.
A recent study has shown future points that regard the centric design for wellness in senior living communities. Even though the study had analyzed the responses collected before the pandemic, it can be used to help develop an understanding of what residents would like to have in communities when it comes to wellness.
The study had focused on the main parts of wellness that have impacted the quality of life for residents. These are intellectual, emotional/social, and physical wellness. The analysis of this study provided a way to see how design strategies could help promote wellness and attract future residents.
The study had surveyed residents in two stages, which were before construction and after the construction. 381 residents had participated in the before construction survey, while 543 residents had participated in the after construction survey.
Wellness of Elements
Most communities have seen wellness by using events and activities that have promoted intellectual growth, socialization, and exercise. However, the operations of this are just a piece to a bigger puzzle.
There was evidence that showed that the right design could boost the perceptions of wellness or foster behaviors that are healthier.
The study talked about ten different strategy types for creating wellness for residents within the design. The designs had included providing residents with more control and autonomy, create feelings of home, provide residents to outdoor or naturally lit areas, and promote patterns of movement. All of these strategies can take various forms.
For instance, the life plan community MonteCedro based in Altadena, California, has spaces that promote autonomy by including a library with plenty of seating options. The design also has large activity spaces: an auditorium and theater at each end of the community. These areas have seating and dining spaces, and that encourages patterns of movement that promote socializing.
The study showed that many residents stated that the designs had supported the no change aspects when it comes to physical wellness. That is a theme that carried over into many of the other questions in this survey. It became an indication that the designs are starting to work as they were intended to.
It was also designed to have spaces where the residents would be able to interact. One of the main dining areas located in the community’s central area allowed for maximum visibility, which allowed residents to run into each other. The community also offered outdoor connections by using inviting, bright and airy spaces.
Another great example is The Summit, located at Rockwood South Hill. This 11 story tower shows a design approach that had supported wellness. The design is a biophilic design meant to connect people to the natural world found around them.
Creating connections between the outdoor spaces and residents is the main goal for design trends that have been fueled by the pandemic. When it comes to an infection control perspective, outside is safer than being inside. It is better to give people access to fresh air, which removes the burden of being isolated from other people.
This particular design goes much further by creating specific access points for the outdoors, but it shows a way to be connected with the outside even if they are inside.
Designers have used natural materials and color palettes, patterns, and motifs used to create the outdoor feel while inside the community.
The community comes with an inhouse wellness program that is through LiveWell. The whole program can focus on a more holistic approach to wellness and embraces all aspects of the community. That ranges from the design and architecture to programming.
The entrance of The Summit, the designers had added in a waterfall feature that makes people think of the Spokane River and the waterfalls it has. All of the units have balconies so that residents can enjoy being outside without having to leave their units. The building was also made to be inwards towards the rest of the community to draw the residents into these spaces.
Inside of The Summit, the designers had placed a living area inside of the Riverwalk corridor that is curved and winding. The area is full of places that are comfortable and enjoy natural light. The building was also created to have plenty of amenity spaces like dining areas, libraries, a game room, and much more, leading to each other, which creates more areas to be engaged with each other.
Even though the residents cannot benefit from the in-person wellness programs, just like before the pandemic had started, the community’s whole design has allowed for wellness even during isolation. The long corridors allow outdoor views to keep residents to get their daily steps during activity time.
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