Senior communities have begun to respond to consumers’ higher expectations with more services, greater amenities, healthier lifestyle programs, and “resident-centered” care. One area that has lagged in this process is the modernization of facility environments to support the emerging hospitality model and the application of new concepts that can actually enhance the residents’ experience, support health and healing, and increase a community’s appeal and competitiveness.

As we look to the future, one key vision on our planning agenda is “evidence-based” or “purpose-built” design. Through the integration of these design techniques in a facility, an owner can actually influence well-being, promote healing, relieve stress, and reduce medical errors, infections, and falls. Such techniques support trends in the industry by enabling residents to stay healthier and remain in a community longer.

In his article, 10 Top Design Trends in Senior Living Facilities, author Bradford Perkins, FAIA, MRAIC, AICP, has shown there are many important ways facility design can add to the functionality and appeal of the senior living environment as well as improve the residents’ experience and satisfaction. These items include:

●        Enhancing personal respect, privacy, and dignity – Today’s consumers have an appropriate disdain for “institutional” environments and all the negatives they associate with it. A sense of personal privacy and respect for their dignity is paramount. Most long-term care facilities were built to function as small, low-tech hospitals as opposed to resident-centered living environments.

●        “There’s no place like home” – The trend today is toward more engaging and homelike living space. The “Green House Model” is based on the concept that senior adults prefer private suites that adjoin a common area for socialization, dining, and relaxation purposes.

●        Employing hospitality industry concepts – Hospitality design concepts are now being applied to both facilities’ designs and their services and programming, as consumers expect more lifestyle enhancing amenities.

●        Using technology to enhance senior living – There are many emerging technologies that make it possible for people to live longer, healthier, and less restrictive lives. In an article at Senior Housing Forum titled, Assisted Living 2.0 – High Tech and High Touch, author Katy Fike, Ph.D., offers several examples and says, “Products and services that exist today and those that will emerge tomorrow can help minimize human error, scale limited resources, and empower care providers in their pursuit to deliver high quality care.” Technology is now beginning to have a significant impact on seniors’ choices.

●        Replacing “Aging in Place” with “Living in Place” – Today, seniors do not equate moving into a senior living facility with a reduction in lifestyle and quality of life. Instead, they want to continue their lives and interests well into their 80s.

●        Enabling profitable program and service expansion – Memory care and short-term rehabilitation are examples of responsive services that add value to residents, provide new revenue streams, and position your community for the cost-savings focus of ACOs under the Affordable Care Act.

New facilities can be designed to encompass many of the new trends being seen in the marketplace across a mix of independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing, depending on the needs of the local community. The mix of the types of services provides for a “living in place” approach to the residents’ requirement for high level of care demanded.

In addition to the interior amenities and aesthetics of a project, the vision should also include exterior amenities that are similar to those of residents’ current homes. With a high level of landscape, open space, and on-site amenities, an owner can provide a feeling of “home” to the residents, their visitors, and the employees. The focus of the facility and its amenities will be on the residents’ well-being and their freedom to live well in a social and friendly environment. Careful research and comprehensive planning will result in design solutions that meet regulatory requirements, address specific functional necessities, and offer maximum aesthetic appeal.

Shingobee Real Estate Company and Shingobee Builders can work with you to develop senior living options for your community. To schedule an initial consultation, contact us at 763-479-1300, or you can message us at Our services extend to property owners in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and St. Cloud, Minnesota.