As a successful real estate developer, you're always on the lookout for your next investment. One trend in real estate investing that might surprise you? A sudden uptick in the decision to invest in senior living facilities. Especially given the rise in demand for luxury senior living, you'll have an opportunity to not only create beautiful spaces that truly serve the needs of residents, but also to make a competitive return on your investment.
Of course, in order to make that happen, you'll need to know what the biggest trends are in senior housing architecture. So, what kinds of designs attract residents and their families, allow you to maximize the space you do have, and give your building the kind of reputation that will have you earning serious profits for years to come? Read on to find out.
Floor plans should encourage movement
In the past, assisted living facilities design prioritized limiting movement between private rooms and common areas as much as possible.
But since recent research has found that walking increases the lifespan of older adults, in addition to improving mobility and decreasing the likelihood of physical disabilities in the future, a more movement-driven design is the new normal.
This means longer hallways, larger rooms, plenty of outdoor space, and even the addition of a gym are all things that modern senior facilities should take into consideration when developing a design plan.
Even if some residents have more severe health problems or mobility limitations, even walking from one end of a long hallway to the other can provide them with a sense of accomplishment.
Fight caregiver fatigue with improved staff-only spaces
Senior living architects are also increasingly focused on how the facility's design can improve life for its staff in addition to its residents.
Caregiver burnout is especially common in senior facilities, which means a decreased quality of care, higher staff turnover, and in extreme cases, even an increased likelihood of elder abuse.
To combat this issue, the design of staff-only lounges, kitchens, and even areas where staff can nap when on breaks has become the standard in contemporary assisted living facilities design. These spaces should be large, have plenty of natural lighting, and allow for equipment and medication storage options as well.
Many facilities also include classroom space for staff in their design plans, as it allows for continuing education courses to be taught on-site, and gives interns and current nursing students a place to hone their skills away from the eyes and ears of patients.
Emphasize the kitchen as a community area
Another huge trend in senior living architecture is a design plan that makes the kitchen a central community area, as opposed to just a standard visitation or common room.
Just like a larger overall floor plan designed to emphasize movement, the idea behind a communal kitchen is to promote engagement and activity. Care providers can host cooking classes here, have seniors prepare meals for members of their community, and even allow visiting family members to help their loved ones prepare favorite recipes. This creates a home-like atmosphere and encourages collaboration and communication between residents.
Plus, it's so much better than having residents sit in a common area all day watching television and waiting around for the evening activities to begin.
Additionally, a community kitchen allows for the option of all-day dining, which means residents can eat on their own schedules.
If your facility primarily houses seniors that aren't capable of preparing food for themselves, consider replacing the idea of a communal kitchen with a small coffee shop or café.
Consider hospitality-based design plans
As the demand for luxury senior facilities increases, so too does the demand for senior living spaces that function more like exclusive resorts than the poorly lit, under-designed nursing homes of the past.
Especially if you're catering to a higher-end clientele, your architectural design needs to meet— and then exceed—their expectations. Rooms for fitness classes, an on-site salon, a movie theatre, spas and swimming pools, wine cellars, and even restaurants are things that allow residents to feel like they're at a boutique hotel.
Yes, this design concept means a heavier investment upfront. However, residents will often pay an entry fee of up to $1 million in addition to monthly rent, and you're much more likely to have a longer waitlist of future residents.
Make spaces flexible and versatile
Another important aspect of senior living facilities is the need for flexible rooms and spaces. Especially if you'd like to save money on building costs, or if you have a smaller space on which to build, flexible spaces are non-negotiable.
Look into design options like movable walls, multi-purpose rooms, and rooms that can be easily reconfigured for community events.
Residents and families can even rent out these rooms to celebrate a birthday, host an event or party, and more. This option also allows for additional income generation.
Tap into the urbanization of senior living facilities
It's not just how you build your senior living facility that matters, but also the location in which you choose to build it.
In the past few years, there's been an increasing demand for senior homes in urbanized central locations. Why? Because this kind of environment makes residents feel much more independent and much less isolated. They no longer feel "trapped" in the facility or as though they have to wait for friends and family members to bring them the things they need.
Instead, they can catch a play or movie in town, run to the grocery store, and grab lunch at a local hot spot without worrying about getting lost or having to travel too far.
Look for an area that's walkable, and install proper lighting along the pathways to help guide residents back home in the right direction.
Clear separation between public and private spaces
One of the biggest concerns that family members of residents have when they decide to put their loved ones in an assisted living facility? The dignity and privacy that the people they care about the most will receive.
Of course, seniors too care deeply about their privacy and want to be able to maintain as much of their independence as is safely possible. If they feel like your facility doesn't have a private space for them to receive assistance with personal tasks, ask sensitive questions about their health, and even go for routine check-ups, they may put off getting the care that they need.
In the past, well-meaning but ultimately problematic design regulations meant that many seniors ended up receiving care in full view of other residents. This is now unacceptable, and may even lead to complaints and lawsuits against your facility.
Instead, opt for a design that separates care facilities from living spaces completely. If possible, have separate buildings for nursing rooms and apartments, or ensure that the two are reasonably far apart from each other. You should also increase the size of your care rooms, and even consider adding a waiting room for those who have standard appointments with on-staff nurses and doctors.
Finally, instruct nurses to give patient medications and basic care/assistance in the privacy of the resident's private room or apartment whenever possible.
A good assisted living architect will also emphasize the importance of a facility that looks more like a high-end apartment complex than a standard nursing home.
Remember that today's residents are opting to live in senior care facilities not only because they need a higher level of care, but also for the comfortable and social environments they provide.
This means that often, one-room living spaces that consist of little more than a bed and a few personal items are inadequate.
Instead, seniors want their space to mimic an apartment. They'll want a kitchen, a living room, a place to entertain friends, and a private bedroom just like they had at home.
Want to learn more about senior living facilities architecture and design?
Today's senior facilities are about creating a community-based environment that fosters a sense of independence, provides home-like living spaces, and uses the surrounding areas to its advantage.
If you're a real estate developer, senior living facilities can be quite a lucrative investment—if you know the right architects to work with.
We invite you to contact us and begin the process of transforming your space into a quality senior care facility that will accommodate the needs of residents, staff, and visiting family members and friends with ease.