Category Archives: Master Planning

Senior Living Design Trends for 2021

When COVID-19 became a part of our daily lives, it altered much of how we live and work. For us at Community Living Solutions and our clients, it means our approach to senior living community design takes into account more factors around senior health and wellness. The senior living design trends emerging are in response to this new landscape. Building codes and operational protocols are being implemented with the pandemic and future outbreaks in mind, forcing developers, architects and facility leaders to adapt quickly.   

Beyond the pandemic, another challenge impacting senior housing design trends is economics. As the nation’s population ages, a coming wave of seniors looking for senior living options is nearly here. Demographers estimate that 70% of Americans aged 65 or more will require long-term care.

As your trusted advisors and industry experts, we are monitoring these trends. By partnering with us, we’ll help you understand how best to design, innovate and remain competitive in light of these changes as we help ensure your senior living facility meets these trending needs.

Trend 1: Design for safety

The pandemic is forcing us to rethink how spaces can be used to fight infection. Today we need to think about easy-to-disinfect surfaces, strategically placed sanitation stations and compartmentalization layouts as key components in future facilities. We also must consider planning anterooms and other special areas within buildings where health workers can put on and take off protective clothing.

We also recognize the need for better ventilation and HVAC systems. We can recall the beginning of the pandemic when airlines scrambled to find ways to filter air particles or introduce fresh air into cabins. Likewise, senior living facilities will need to implement advanced air filtering systems.

At the same time, facility updates need to be balanced with efforts to combat social isolation caused by the pandemic. We are already experimenting with ways to create safe, indoor communal areas that are also flexible for multiple uses. Movable partitions, for example, can be employed to re-arrange layouts quickly depending on the need.

For those seniors who can live independently, pocket neighbors are taking hold across the United States. These neighborhoods, now being built as part of larger senior living communities, feature small, single-family homes located in close proximity to needed services and activities. In this way, residents can be socially active while being shielded from larger communal areas where risk of infection is much higher. It’s a good compromise between strict isolation and complete exposure.

Finally, industry leaders recognize that multi-purpose outdoor areas such as gardens, walkways and patios will be central to senior living planning going forward. They are investing in customizable features for these areas like pavilions, visitation tents and roofed porches. Social distancing measures can be maintained through the use of fixed benches positioned at safe distances from one another. Layouts that provide for multiple direct exits to the outside cut down on traffic through the main facility’s corridors.    

Trend 2: Offer more options for the middle market

The middle-market for senior living is vast. The coming influx of baby boomers into senior communities is expected to significantly raise the cost of care. This leaves middle-income seniors wondering how they will provide for their own care—they have too many assets for Medicaid assistance but not enough assets to pay for care in the long term. In addition, the long-term care insurance market is contracting. Since the industry went from 100 private insurers to 12, it’s estimated, insurance covers less than 10% of people who need it.  

With fewer options to ease this financial crunch, middle-income seniors will need more efficient and fiscally responsible solutions. That challenges all of us to find innovative ways to bring construction costs down while also helping middle-income consumers to change their expectations. They may not be able to afford facilities with high-end amenities like spacious rooms, fitness centers and beauty salons. Reassessing priorities to guide more efficient construction and design may help solve the middle-market squeeze while still maintaining a high degree of comfort for residents.

In addition to affordable construction, another option may be bringing services to the middle class. Even before the pandemic, home healthcare was on the rise, increasing 30% in the last five years. While home health may seem a competitor of senior care facilities, the boom may present an opportunity. We ask: What can be done from a design perspective to enhance partnerships with a home health agency that could, in turn, drive business to your facility? It’s an opportunity worth considering.                                                                   

Trend 3: Focus on staff

It’s no secret that staff members at senior living facilities had a stressful and challenging 2020. Well before the pandemic, facilities were challenged to find and retain staff. By some estimates, the senior care profession will need to add 2.3 million new workers by 2030 to remain viable.

In response, design can no longer be just resident-centered. We must consider staff efficiency and well-being through design and technology. Buildings that incorporate natural light, spaces for staff collaboration, nourishment opportunities like cafes and snack bars, fitness areas specifically for staff and acoustic separation to cut down on noise will go far in attracting potential employees. 

Senior living communities will need to plan for these changes while remaining sustainable and fiscally efficient. 

Trend 4: Adopt virtual technology

Lastly, tech. The pandemic quickly taught us how to live and work virtually. One piece of tech we’ve looked at personally, Matterport®, could also help facility leaders as they recruit residents. First intended to help real estate buyers visualize properties, this 3D digital mapping technology can also be used to offer seniors and their families a virtual walkthrough of a facility. In this way, they can tour the building without having to go there physically, making it convenient and safer as they choose their next home.

Depend on our senior living construction expertise

At CLS, we strive to stay at the forefront of senior living design trends. In doing so, we provide architectural design and building recommendations to enhance your marketability, helping you stay ahead of the competition.

If you would like to discuss how to modernize a current facility or build new in light of today’s challenges, contact us or call 920-969-9344.

Riverwood Senior Living Design Project Qualifies for $1.6 Million PACE Wisconsin Loan

Program helps facility provide resident-centric amenities

Senior living design with commercial PACE Wisconsin loanFor Community Living Solutions, senior living design starts with a belief that as architects, we owe a responsibility to the environment and to our clients to design buildings that are sustainable. For Riverwood Eagle’s Nest LLC, that belief helped its investors reap great rewards. The Wisconsin Dells-based developer qualified for a $1.6 million Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Wisconsin Program loan that is helping them provide energy savings and resident-centric amenities that will boost the facility’s marketability. It’s the first senior living project in Wisconsin to use PACE Wisconsin funds.

What is a commercial PACE loan?

Commercial PACE Wisconsin programs allow property owners to finance energy improvements and pay back the costs over a specified period of time through assessments. While PACE is a federal program, every state must adopt legislation that allows for its use. In Wisconsin, the application is limited to commercial property owners. The county where the property is located also must pass a resolution to make PACE projects allowable. Riverwood and Columbia County worked in partnership to enable the economic incentive to be used on the project.

In order to qualify for the program loan, a certified third-party energy consultant analyzed Community Living Solutions’ design plans and specifications. Using modeling software, the consultant was able to tell Riverwood’s investors how much they can expect in energy savings over the life of the facility. The expected savings then equals the qualified loan amount—for Riverwood, $1.6 million.

Energy-efficient senior living design

Community Living Solutions didn’t design the building in an attempt to match a PACE loan goal. Sustainability and energy efficiency is simply a hallmark of our design and building philosophy. When investors submitted our plans to see whether it would qualify, the PACE consultant identified it was 38% more energy efficient than the required code.

Building an energy-efficient facility like Riverwood costs more up front. But, as was confirmed by the PACE analysis, the benefits—and savings—last for decades. Our design included:

  • Positioning the building on the site in such a way to maximize natural energy efficiencies
  • Window upgrades that are more efficient than code minimums
  • Minimizing air exchange by having the exhaust flow through a heat exchanger, which will capture the heat used and bring it back into the building
  • Upgraded air-to-water heat pumps
  • Low-flush volume toilets
  • LED lighting

“At a high level, PACE allowed us to provide amenities that we wanted to use to make the facility resident-centric,” said Mary Panzer, one of the Riverwood owners .

As an example, the building will feature in-floor heating. At a more macro level, the cost savings also will allow the owners to pay employees a higher wage than they might find elsewhere, helping mitigate the challenge of finding employees in a tight labor market and promoting employee retention.

A unique project in an idyllic setting

Riverwood is being built as an intentional community, focused on wellness with a continuum of care that includes assisted living and memory care apartments, the first phase of which is scheduled to open October 2020. Future building phases may include independent living duplexes and apartments; a community commons/senior center, healthcare resource center, recreational/wellness center, conference and meeting rooms, a restaurant/social area/ice cream bar; and a hotel/spa and conference facility.

It’s all being built on a 48-acre parcel of land directly on the lower Wisconsin River in Wisconsin Dells.

“We want to service our community with an active lifestyle that promotes wellness,” Panzer said. “Today, seniors want to choose where they live. We are really concerned about safety and functionality. We want it to be aesthetically special—we want it to be a home for our residents and a place where their families want to visit. Yet, it needs to be cohesive so that when someone goes through the continuum, it is gradual and not a shocking change.”

“It really is a combination of the sweet spot between the markets served, the client’s vision, operational efficiencies and serving the needs of the community,” said CLS Chairman and Partner Terry McLaughlin, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP. “The initial vision was finding that sustainable and responsible intersection, and that’s what created this unique responsible business solution.”

The facility will be operated by Altoona, Wis.-based Grace Lutheran Communities. Grace Lutheran was brought to the table for its knowledge in running senior living facilities. Grace’s expertise was tapped immediately when CLS urged the team to consider licensing the assisted living facility as a CBRF. By doing so, the assisted living apartments can house higher acuity need residents, giving operators and investors the flexibility to serve a greater audience. The decision also maximizes the concept of aging in place.

Facility reflects current senior living trends

Riverwood’s vision taps growing trends in senior living—providing care through what is essentially a small community that features hospitality components and amenities.

“The combination of serving our markets through these trends along with the funding and the experts at the table, made this plan work,” Panzer said. “CLS has such a depth of experience. They’ve tried many things—they guided us toward the right choices and away from the wrong ones.”

If you are interested in learning more about our energy-efficient senior living designs that could save you money and help the environment over the long term, contact us or call 920-969-9344 for a free consultation.

Senior Living Construction Opens in Keystone, Iowa

Facility celebrates with ribbon cutting

Community Living Solutions and Keystone Nursing Care Center in Keystone, Iowa, celebrated completion of phase one on a 12,350-square-foot senior living construction project, hosting a ribbon cutting in late February.

The first stage of CLS’ design-build project included a one-story addition with 10 short-term rehabilitation beds, four long-term skilled care private rooms and an inpatient/outpatient therapy center. As we try to do with most projects, CLS teamed with many local and regional contractors to complete the project.

The addition’s interior design has features unique to Keystone—it incorporates photos taken by staff of the local community and environment to help residents and rehab patients feel at home.

“The goal of this project was to provide a more private and comfortable space for short-term rehabilitation patients,” said Aaron Klug, CLS architectural production manager. “The therapy center is now three times its previous size, and patients will enjoy using a separate, private entrance for outpatient therapy.”

CLS will complete the senior living construction project’s second phase this spring. It includes a 400-square-foot commercial kitchen as well as other building and courtyard renovations.

Keystone Nursing Care Center, a 45-bed senior living facility, opened in 1973. It also serves residents in its assisted living complex and independent living apartments.

Senior living design is all we do

If you’re interested in expanding your senior living facility, give us a call at 515-478-3544. Our team of senior living construction experts can help you navigate Iowa’s building requirements, including facilitating a Certificate of Need.

Remodeling and Adaptive Reuse Projects

Adaptive Reuse Project | Grancare Gardens

Finding more affordable ways to improve marketability

As architects specializing in senior living design and construction, we hear it often—care facility owners and executives like you are challenged with appealing to more discerning clients (and their children) while keeping costs in check. So, what happens when your senior living community is years out of date or when market demand calls for more capacity? That’s when more affordable alternatives to new construction may come into play, including remodeling your facility or embarking on an adaptive reuse project.

If you’re thinking about how you can meet customer demand when you don’t have the ability or aren’t interested in building new, it’s worthwhile to consider these alternatives.

Master planning: The first step

Differentiation is always the name of game in senior care. While the care you provide is the most important, your facility’s look and atmosphere is a major driver in whether a prospective resident chooses you over your competitor. Today’s seniors and their children are looking for their next living space to feel like home, a space where they are comfortable and can stay as active as possible.

Considering facility changes? Stay competitive with architectural design by starting your planning phase sooner rather than later. This is especially true if a new long-term care facility is planned in your market—the goal would be to have your project done about the same time so that new competition doesn’t get a step ahead of you.

If you’re in a competitive market and considering adaptive use or remodeling, a comprehensive master plan will benefit you in a variety of ways:

  • It’ll help ensure your remodeling or adaptive use project meets market needs.
  • It’ll provide you with a detailed financial analysis to determine whether the project is cost-effective.
  • Finally, it’ll provide you with a general concept of what your design will look like and the programs and services you could offer.

If you’re planning a facility remodel, this initial document should also include a plan for construction with minimal resident or caregiver disruptions. At CLS, we even create plans that involve and engage your residents in viewing construction progress, when possible, so that they feel included in their home’s evolution.

Considering adaptive reuse

If a master plan reveals your local market could use more senior living facilities, you may want to consider an adaptive reuse project, rather than building from scratch. Empty medical facilities, hotels, schools and other commercial buildings may lend themselves to such projects. Adaptive reuse is a commercial construction trend that many senior living facilities are adopting around the United States due to the scarcity and high land costs. In some cases, it’s also helping senior living communities locate in coveted spaces close to downtowns or cultural centers, where today’s seniors want to be.

But not every available space lends itself to a more affordable option. That’s when careful planning and a complete understanding of what it would take to convert the property becomes a significant piece of the planning process. While these are considerations for any senior living facility, it’s important to keep them in mind through an adaptive use redesign:

  • Mobility: How will seniors enter and exit easily? Do the materials used in the original construction provide high contrast to improve visibility? Is lighting sufficient? If the space is especially large or has several stories, consider upkeep on elevators and providing rest spaces to break up longer walkways.
  • Socialization: Seniors’ physical and mental health relies on socialization with others. Ensure they have access to common spaces, even if it’s in a lobby area as well as outdoors.
  • Public spaces: Based upon the location and size of an adaptive reuse project, it may lend itself to public use. Perhaps a portion could be rented out for a local shop or café. Or, your public-facing space could be designed to invite the community to share a cup of coffee or fitness class.

An adaptive reuse project success

When Grancare Gardens in Green Bay, Wis., approached us to develop a new assisted living center, we saw an opportunity literally next door. Grancare’s long-term nursing facility shared the block with an abandoned medical clinic and its parking lot. Although Grancare had been looking for a green space to build, we approached them about reusing the former clinic because it offered two benefits: it would allow Grancare to provide a continuum of care on one campus, and it offered cost savings.

We  transformed the dark clinic environment into an inviting 16-unit space with large windows and a gazebo that draw in natural light, comfortable interior design elements, an open-concept common area and a beautiful outdoor garden.

Architects specializing in senior living

If you are considering remodeling your senior living community or see an opportunity for an adaptive reuse project, give us a call at (920) 969-9344 or visit our Contact page. We can help you develop the most cost-effective plan to meet your market needs.

Senior Living Construction with Community Living Solutions

How we bring the pieces of the puzzle together

At Community Living Solutions, designing and building senior living communities isn’t all we do. We think beyond brick and mortar to ensure our clients are making the best decisions for their future. How do we do that? With a comprehensive planning process, a commitment to active listening and informed decision-making. That way, all the pieces of a senior living construction project come together in a state-of-the-art facility that will meet residents’ and employees’ needs for years to come.

We often compare our process to a three-legged stool made up of planning, architecture and construction. Our extensive planning process leads to thoughtful design and construction, which is based on our clients’ vision coupled with current and future market demand. When one of those legs doesn’t function effectively, the project suffers. See how we approach each of these services to ensure all three legs work together to create a state-of-the-art senior living facility.

Our planning process

Before we begin designing your senior living facility, we take a significant amount of time gathering information to fully understand everything about your organization, your team, your residents and your board of directors. Thanks to our experience in designing and building only senior living communities, we also bring insight we gained from past projects to help ensure yours goes smoothly.

We have assisted clients with developing strategic initiatives of their business plans. We helped them obtain financing and determine the capital cost of their project. Typically, we assist with identifying third-party market feasibility consultants to help our clients determine what to build—or whether to build—based on market demand.

We enter every project knowing there are numerous decision-making possibilities, and every decision affects the whole. Like a Rubik’s Cube®, if you change one thing, there are another five sides that could be affected, for better or worse. That’s why we take master planning so seriously. Without proper planning, making changes without noticing how they affect the whole can leave you frustrated. And worse yet, leave you with costly mistakes both now and in the future.

Staying on trend in architectural design

We design and build only senior living facilities because we share our clients’ passion for providing seniors the best quality of life possible. Our person-centered designs are uniquely creative as they need to solve a series of complex problems—focusing on residents’ quality of life, maximizing operations and staff efficiencies, minimizing overall costs and taking advantage of the latest market trends.

We do our due diligence by researching not only overall architectural design trends but also new products or new ways of delivering care that may affect the design. Three examples come to mind:

  • During a recent memory care expansion at Bethel Home & Services in Viroqua, Wis., we brought the first Snoezelen room to that market. These multi-sensory rooms help reduce anxiety, especially for those living with memory loss.
  • In post-construction client surveys, we learned that while the long-term care market is demanding private bathrooms, there are fewer people available to clean those bathrooms. At the same time, we learned of a light fixture that is said to kill germs and bacteria. Could installing these light fixtures help upkeep these bathrooms in some small way? It’s possible.
  • Those living with memory loss may benefit from a room design with the subtle reminder of having the restroom in view from the bed. The possibility of reducing accidents allows caregivers to spend time on greater needs and interaction.

Our portfolio is full of projects that not only brought beautiful new living spaces to area markets, but they also solved day-to-day challenges, both big and small.

Helping reduce senior living construction costs

People often ask about assisted living construction costs, as well as construction costs of other senior living facilities. At Community Living Solutions, we take pride in bringing together all the disciplines needed under one source of responsibility: us. That helps keep costs down.

Every project is led by a CLS partner who develops and helps to manage a team of about 20 subcontractors. In every instance, we hire local tradespeople who fully understand the area’s building codes. We vet them thoroughly to make sure they are fully staffed, have the right experience and background, and are financially sound. We also ensure they share our common values so they become a trusted partner of your complete construction team.

We save money by acting as our own general contractor, and we pass those savings on to you. It’s estimated that a competitive construction management procurement process, such as the one we deliver, can save an average of 8 percent on construction costs.

The CLS way

We view success as lessening for our clients any burdens that may come from a building project; delivering an efficient, homelike facility; and saving clients money in the long run. If you are interested in seeing how we are different, request an introductory meet-and-greet by visiting our Contact page or calling (920) 969-9344.