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Spacial Design for Senior Living Facilities

Spacial Design for Senior Living Facilities

Posted In // Healthcare Design Tips

Not every senior living facility has the same spacial planning needs. However, there are common concerns in the mission to be safe and flexible while meeting changing demands. Here are some general advice and ideas from hospitality design that can also help.

Diverse needs of senior living centers

When the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) forum recently asked industry executives for the spacial design upgrades they most wanted, the answers were diverse. Some facilities were most concerned with having dedicated room purposes; others provided wish-list items ranging from hydrotherapy pools to comprehensive fitness rooms to indoor walking tracks. When the same group asked questions related to spacial planning, one senior living director wanted to know typical square footage for a coffee shop, while another was interested in noise reduction in a converted gym.

In other words, the needs or desires of facilities are by no means cookie-cutter. As in anything, heads of these centers all have specific concerns related to their location, the brand, the budget, and various other elements. However, leaders in this industry all share an understanding that the built environment is a major factor in determining how well they are able to achieve their business objectives.

Let’s look at a few of the issues that often arise when considering improvements to the design of senior living facilities.


Ideally you would be able to fit floors to room purposes, but often rooms serve multiple functions. There is a great amount of research on this topic, though, and a designer can help you review and purchase slip-resistant and trip-resistant flooring.

Ceiling and sound

One of the primary concerns with ceilings is acoustics, notes Douglas J. Gallow Jr., for the National Council on Aging. “In some cases, visually interesting effects can be created… by hanging patches of acoustical ceiling in multiple areas… to create ‘clouds’ above the space,” he says. “Fabric covered wall panels, frequently used as a means of sound control in schools, can also be helpful in absorbing sound in large spaces in senior centers.”

Custom vs. multi-use

There are positives aspects of being able to adapt areas for your immediate use through flexible spacial design. However, it’s also smart to build in room for custom purposes, such as coffee shops, computer centers, and fitness rooms.

Hospitality design for a better senior living center

One of the major trends in senior living is hospitality design. Here are a few tips related to that emerging aspect of the industry:

  1. Bar/concierge – Speaking of multi-purpose areas, what about having a service where you can both order a glass of wine and get your mail or dry cleaning?
  2. Invisible services pathways – Safety and ease are in part about isolating service movement, note Gary Koerner and Rocky Berg for Argentum. “Delivery systems [should] hide the hustle and bustle of the services being delivered,” they say, “making them appears effortless, out of sight, out of mind.”
  3. Technology – You want everything to be fully web-connected. Senior living clients increasingly want spaces and design solutions that embrace connectivity.

Help “understanding” your space

Are you wanting to make the best possible design decisions for your senior living facility? At Beaux-Arts Group, we create distinctive, high-performance interiors that address the dynamic needs of our clients. See our services.
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