Like most things, senior and assisted living facilities also evolve with the times and the ever-changing needs of their residents and those who are expected to live in them.
Today’s changes are influenced by the baby boomers and their preferences for their future aged care accommodation. It’s not a surprise that assisted living home plans nowadays are different from what they were five years or a decade ago.
How do architects design assisted living home plans?
They do so base on two things— (1) the updated key standards, codes, and guidelines that apply to the design and construction of senior living facilities and (2) the most self-sufficient seniors in assisted living.
Updated key standards are:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to help address accessibility issues.
- International Building Code (IBC) that building inspectors use as a guide. It’s updated by the International Code Council every 3 years.
- NFPA 101, Life Safety Code that fire officials use as a guide. This is updated every 3 years by the National Fire Protection Association.
- Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) Guidelines for the Design and Construction of Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities serve as a reference for programming in assisted living, nursing homes, or skilled nursing.
Because some states craft their own build and design standards, consistency across regions is lacking. For this reason, architects take cues from the seniors in aged care.
What are the current changes made on existing assisted living home plans?
Expanded food service in independent living facilities
These facilities are classified by the IBC as R-2 residential use. This means they must meet the same building and safety requirements that apply to dormitories and multifamily housing.
Such facilities offer seniors a range of living accommodations, from apartments to cottages. They also come with full service for its residents, including concierge services.
What has been improved is the type of dining options offered. Not only are seniors treated to a variety of cuisines, but they can also dine in bars, cafes, pubs, and restaurants.
Proper classification of the use and occupancy of assisted living buildings
There used to be confusion on whether assisted living facilities are best classified as an I-2 building instead of I-1:
I-1 – allows wood frame construction. Assumes that residents are capable of evacuating in an emergency
I-2 – requires that multistory buildings are made noncombustible
The I-1 remains but with a couple of conditions appended to it:
1 – senior residents should be able to evacuate all by themselves
2 – must be built with a higher standard. If wood is used, the building should only have 3 stories.
Updated design to skilled nursing
New FGI guidelines paved the way for better-skilled nursing assisted living home plans.
2010 edition specifies a new room design that allows residents to have unimpeded access to a toilet room, closet for personal belongings, and exterior windows to bring in natural light.
2014 edition specifies that design should be person-centered care that will promote dignity and purposeful living.
Changes to life plan communities or continuing care retirement communities are expected as well. Seniors of today want something different from their predecessors, after all.
They now want to see spas, walking trails, health-focused meals, and other wellness-enhancing amenities in assisted living.
Oxbow Living offers Assisted Living & Memory Care out of Nebraska and to the Surrounding Cities: Ashland, South Bend, Greenwood, Murdock, Elmwood, Ithaca, Mead