Senior citizens are redefining the meaning of a “full life” by living longer, thanks to continuous improvements in medical innovation. This has forced long-term care (LTC) organizations to reassess their current space and better plan for the future.
Leading the charge in the assisted living (AL) market is Epworth Villa, who are re-tailoring their services to include specialized memory care options. Located in Oklahoma City, the building formerly followed an institutional-medical model (think long hallways and large nurse stations) to cater to patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other age-related neurological issues. With a lack of privacy in most rooms, something had to be done. Fast!
Melissa Beck, lead designer on the project, says, “For everyone from the director of nursing down to housekeeping, it’s the interior design that the staff and the residents interface with every day. So the way those spaces were being repurposed really had to be taken into consideration in terms of how the interior design was planned.”
To quickly and most effectively make the needed changes, John Harned, president and CEO of Epworth Living, states that the entire team made it their mission to focus on memory care and LT care services. To lead the charge, which began in 2013, Spellman Brady was hired as the design firm. The end goal was for the built environment to take on a more friendly and accessible household model.
Final renovations included complete restructuring of 32 former AL or LTC units into private apartments with the addition of another 40 new private memory care apartments. Memory care units in particular received unique tactile surfaces and color palettes for each wing and dementia-friendly cues for way finding. These units were also deliberately located on the ground floor so that residents could freely access a securely enclosed outdoor garden. Additionally, traditional nurses’ stations received a more residential revamp.
The end results showcase Epworth Villa replacing the traditional institutional-medical model with a warmer, more welcoming feel. According to Harned, “What I have been trying to do for years is really raise the level of long-term care and assisted living and memory care. It’s just as important as independent living.” Hopefully this is a step in ensuring that a more thoughtful space design is used in senior housing throughout the US. (image via Shutterstock)