The Importance of Design in Assisted Living

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 08 July 2011

Although the style of floor lamps or armchairs decorating the lobby of an assisted living facility is not important, interior design does play a key role that many tend to overlook.

For instance, navigating a long hallway in an assisted living home can be a real challenge for a person with vision impairments. Consider this: if the wallpaper is in a neutral tone and the handrails are painted in a neutral color, it will be extremely difficult to differentiate between the two. Contrasting colors, in the form of a darker-colored wallpaper with a cream-colored handrail (or vice versa) would make navigation much easier.

Likewise, if the carpet has a busy pattern, those who have trouble with depth perception will find traversing the halls a frustrating or frightening experience. Wood floors or tile may offer a cleaner look than a patterned carpet, but if the floor is glossy, the high shine can produce a glare that would also present issues for a person with vision impairments.

The concept of universal design is still quite new (the term emerged 11 years ago at a university conference), but it is being applied more frequently as senior care facilities – even senior’s homes – are adapted, upgraded, and constructed to better meet their changing needs.

There are 5 Comments about this post

  1. Michelle,

    I’m pleased to see that you have posted information about the important topic of design considerations in assisted living. Too often we see “form over function” when it comes to design in long term care settings. Mainly, it looks good but it does a poor job in providing the best in resident/patient experience. The examples you cite in your blog post are very good and unfortunately, do exist out in the market place.

    Increasingly, providers are becoming more aware and more proficient at incorporating resident/patient sensitive design features in their communities/facilities. As providers meet the escalating challenges of aging in place and higher acuity levels, attention to these design nuances will be an incredibly essential element for a successful operation.


    on 08 July 2011 / 7:54 PM

  2. Hi Craig!
    Thanks so much for your comment. You’re absolutely right. As you stated so eloquently, a closer look at design is key in terms of providing the best in resident/patient experiences.

    I agree completely – providers will have to pay close attention to these design nuances for future operational success.

    Let’s hope we see less beige walls & ivory handrails in senior living communities of the near future!


    on 11 July 2011 / 10:22 AM

  3. But one other point that all seniors who are locating assisted living facilities should also consider is the proximity of the residence to a major hospital.


    on 25 August 2011 / 5:33 AM

  4. Yes, great point. That is very important. Thanks for sharing your comment!


    on 25 August 2011 / 7:15 AM

  5. [...] especially as it relates to my field: elder care. I’ve written dozens of posts about the importance of design in senior living facilities, and not simply in terms of aesthetics but, more specifically, how the [...]


    on 14 December 2011 / 1:27 PM


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