04 Nov Senior Living Design Focus: Interior Design Post COVID-19
Designing for Senior Living in a COVID-19 World.
Like so many other people and professions, our lives in 2020 look very different than they did in 2019 because of COVID-19.
While so much has changed, our desire to continue supporting and designing beautiful spaces for people to enjoy has not. We’ve always enjoyed working with the senior living population. Now more than ever, we feel it’s vital that we do everything in our power to make safe, functional, and uplifting communities for this population to live healthy lives.
While safety in design has always been at the top of our priority list when designing a new community, there are a few new measures that can be implemented to move forward in a post-COVID world. Below are three key areas we can include in future senior living design.
Traditional senior living design is often laid out like multi-family housing/ apartment style living. There are long corridors over multiple floors, that make it difficult to have flexibility within the community. Moving forward, we’re going to be seeing more communities moving to floorplans that make units and common spaces more flexible. By designing communities more focused around smaller pods or “neighborhoods” it makes it easier to contain any threats. It also allows neighborhoods to quarantine together, making pandemics like COVID-19 less isolating.
2. Air Quality
In an article in Architect Magazine, Aaron Betsky discusses the importance of ventilation within these communities. “We need a post-air conditioning world: well-ventilated and open spaces that replace the hermetically sealed environments in which so many of us work, live and play.” The new standard for air quality is moving towards installing commercial air purifiers approved by HEPA throughout the building. It’s also going to be vital to include personal unit air purifiers for each resident and unit. In addition to air purifiers, including more plant-life throughout the building is a natural way to help purify toxins that HEPA filters can miss.
3. Anti-Microbial Finishes
While there is a lot of new research being conducted in anti-microbial finishes for hospitals and healthcare settings, there are a few easy finishes that can be implemented in senior living design. Crypton and other fabrics like “incase” have fibers that are inherently anti-microbial. They are also the only fabrics “sanctioned as disinfect able by the EPA.” These fabrics are also stain-resistant with integrated permanent liquid barriers that help with ease of cleaning any messes that could arise. Additionally, there are quite a few paint brands that are creating anti-microbial finishes. Sherwin Williams, among others, has Paint Shield which is the first paint that kills 99.9% of bacteria, including Staph (Staphylococcus aureus) and E. coli (Escherichia coli), within two hours of exposure on a painted surface. Finishes like this are vital throughout the communities, specifically on high-touch, high traffic areas like handrails.
While there are several other design elements and features that are sure to be implemented within the coming years, as a design community, we’re excited to see the new ways in which we can keep growing and supporting seniors.