Health and security are always top of mind at senior living facilities, but especially in the era of COVID-19 owners and operators are prioritizing safety upgrades all the while preserving functional and operational normalcy and avoiding the costs and timelines of larger projects.
Here, Steve Benesh, project design manager at StudioSix5 in Austin, offers a few tips:
Delineating a clear entry and exiting sequence and directional routing for resident and staff circulation is a means to limit unnecessary cross contamination. Providing localized storage and supply centers for specific building zones reduces the need for staff to cross through other areas to retrieve supplies, while repurposing rooms adjacent to a main entry point can create designated areas for residents to safely meet with family or visitors without moving through the community.
Creating hot and safe zones through furniture groupings lends flexibility to spaces that the community can use to address needs as they shift on a day-to-day basis. Similarly, creating showers, laundry, and back-of-house circulation allows staff to prepare for work and clean up afterwards. Dedicated administrative, medical, and emergency control rooms provide space for navigating daily challenges and establishing protocols and logistics. Additionally, reorganizing food service venues, including circulation flow and table spacing, and adding more outdoor seating options allows for dining to occur in a socially distanced and safe manner for both residents and staff.
Several technology advances have been especially valuable in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 while allowing communities to maintain operations. For example, touchless and automated amenities, such as faucets and hand dryers, as well as Wi-Fi and voice-activated mechanisms, help to limit virus transmission from actively touched fixtures and surfaces. Similarly, using electrostatic spray-applied antiviral coating to protect finishes and surfaces of furnishings helps to keep them sanitized for extended periods.
A version of this article was originally published by Environments for Aging.