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This blog offers insights into how a well-designed interior space can improve the quality of your business and how working with a professional interior designer can help you make it happen with ease.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at an event for other interior designers and manufacturers who work in healthcare and senior living. The conference was sponsored by Interior + Sources magazine.
The speech was on behavioral health design trends. For this type of healthcare, the interior design is critical for a successful outcome. Mental health issues affect everyone, no matter what your age is. Interiors designed for these types of facilities need to be accessible and accommodate everyone.
Since my specialty is interior design for senior living, my approach was to talk about how seniors are treated by the mental health community. Many clinics and treatment facilities are not designed to handle the special needs of seniors. For example; the lighting isn’t adequate for aging eyes. Seating isn’t easy to get in or out of safely without assistance and the flooring is hard to walk on.
Many people who are diagnosed with a mental health condition in their younger years are not magically cured, nor do these conditions disappear when they age. In fact they may become more acute due to the natural process of aging. In fact, not all seniors facing mental health problems are being properly diagnosed. Eating disorders, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, bi-polar and other more serious mental health issues are just as common among the senior population as it is in younger populations. Suicide among seniors is also very common. Depression is still the major cause of suicidal tendencies. Just like in younger people, suicide prevention is critical for seniors, but many choose not to seek help. Suicide prevention is difficult for seniors because they are not used to reaching out to family members or professionals. Other concerns include physicians who misdiagnosis depression as early onset dementia. Drug interaction is also a cause for misdiagnosis of dementia and even depression among seniors.
So how does the design of the interior environment help to ease the already stressed patient, caregiver and especially the family member helping an aging relative? Design can play a pivotal part in making sure that the treatments are successful. By recognizing key areas in a clinical space and using good design programing strategies.
Here are some of the issues that need to be addressed when considering the interiors for behavioral health services:
1) Safety - It is important that everyone involved in behavioral health feel safe. Providing safe areas for patients, caregivers and visitors is vital. When people feel they are safe it helps doctors and staff make good decisions on treatment options for each individual patient.
2) Comfort - is closely related to safety. If someone is feeling safe and comfortable, they are relaxed and if they feel relaxed, they are less likely to allow anger and fear to dictate their actions.
3) Privacy - places where patients can express themselves without interference. Some patients are more likely to discuss their emotions to a therapist in a private setting. Providing areas of complete privacy for just this type of interaction is essential. Separating group therapy areas from private areas allows caregivers more flexibility when considering treatment options for individuals.
4) Light - natural lighting in particular is more important than artificial lighting because it comes from the sun. Sunlight provides vitamin D and it also is shown to be uplifting to those who are suffering from depression. Providing natural light and artificial lighting that mimics natural light with the ability to control it makes the interiors spaces feel less like a prison or hospital.
5) Color - Choosing the right color palette is essential. If a color is too harsh or too bright it can have negative effects on all mental health patients. Studies suggest that colors that have a red or pink undertone will actually increase violence and anger, where is green and blue do not. The trick is using these colors in the right proportion without being overwhelming to create the right balance and cohesiveness for the overall interior space.
6) Furniture and accessories -need to be sturdy and durable. Having anything in the space that can be used to hurt someone or be used by the patient to hurt themselves is not an option for mental health facilities. Finding the right furnishings that are both sturdy and comfortable is the challenge. Fabrics also need to be durable and easy to clean. Accessories such as window coverings, coat hooks and artwork need to be designed to have an anti-ligature feature for suicide prevention.
7) Artwork - Consider the images that are selected very carefully. What looks good on the wall may also have a negative effect on patients. Studies have shown that artwork can be used to heal as well as create an overwhelming negative affect on behavioral health patients. Working with the caregivers and medical staff on selecting appropriate images and artistic forms that can help in the treatment process is more important than just putting something on the wall.
Using universal design practices that focus on creating interiors that are suitable for everyone is necessary for all types of interior design to be successful. In behavioral health is not just essential; it’s critical. Now that our healthcare system is focusing awareness on how the mind and body need to be treated together and that we need to treat both for overall good health. More people regardless of age will be seeking help for behavioral health problems.
Providing interior spaces that meet those needs and are designed to adequately accommodate these patients is key to having good outcomes for all of us. This is what interior design with a purpose is all about. If you would like to know more on the current trends in behavioral health design feel free to contact us! We would be happy to show you how design with a purpose can make a difference.
If Baby Boomers will be retiring at 10,000 a day according to Social Security eligibility this year alone? The reason, more retirees including aging baby boomers are staying in their own homes longer. The newly built properties are not filling up to their full occupancy at a fast enough rate to maintain the current rate of new construction. Older existing senior living properties are having a hard time competing because they need to be updated inside, but their curb appeal is lacking outside. Then there is the concern that many of the CCR properties that are currently operating now are not meeting the needs or the desires of the next generation of residents.
What will the next generation want in a senior living environment that is not currently being offered? There is lots of speculation regarding what the next senior housing design model will be, but one thing is certain and that is change brings opportunity.
Understanding that baby boomers and Gen X will soon be seniors citizens, and that they do not see themselves the same way as the current generation of seniors is a big step in the right direction.
The impact of interior design on these communities will be substantial. Since Boomers and Gen Xers have their own take on what is comfortable and stylish. Keeping interiors light and fresh will be important to attracting new residents. The interior design will also affect the way the community flows and operates. The idea that it should be an all-encompassing resort with its own golf course or tennis club won’t be sufficient. The next generation will want to age well and with the freedom they had when they were younger. They embrace new technological advances quickly and will expect their communities to do the same. They will want to have the opportunity to create their own idea of what it means to age well and not have someone else tell them how to do it.
Individuality, personal space, emphasis on green buildings and health consciousness, as well as a variety in social activities and living spaces that include multi generations are key to developing the next model in senior living. These services or venues do not need to be contained under one roof or on a single campus for this generation who is used to traveling to get what they want to be happy.
The design of these new communities will be dependent on the residents who live there. Owners and management companies who are working to find the newest community model need to consider the immediate impact the interiors make on residents and staff.
Hiring a trained professional interior designer during the planning process is the key to getting the interior environment right. The questions that an interior designer asks during the predesign stage of new construction or at the beginning of a property renovation is paramount to having a successful outcome; which is attracting new residents to fill vacant occupancies.
Some of the questions that a professional interior designer might ask are:
These types of the questions help to create a design that is resident focused. Colors, textures and style will be driven by the location, cultural influences and lifestyle of the geographic area where the property will be located.
Universal design practices are crucial to obtaining a flexible design that can be adapted to future changes in the property’s function or services. Understanding that the cost of living and healthcare services for retirees will continue to rise, finding an affordable senior living model that will work for the next generation of seniors will be in all of our best interest. Making that model work to suit the changing needs of these future generations will be challenging. Having an interior environment designed with purpose, will help make that challenge easier if we are willing to consider all possibilities not just what seems to work today.
If your community would like to see what is new in senior living design, finishes and furnishings feel free to contact us! We’d love to show you what we can do to make your property the best example of senior living design for today’s residents and what’s on the horizon for the future!
For information on real estate investment opportunities for senior living contact:
Also see Julie’s quarterly updated newsletter at http://gpehealthcareinvestmentgroup.com
This blog was written for the commercial carpeting manufacturer J+J Innovations after the Santa Fe symposium event for senior living interior designers this past May. The blog post will also be featured on their website.
Is there such a thing as a design style that’s called senior living? At one time I believe there was. If you were designing anything related to seniors whether it was called a nursing or a retirement home, then the answer would be yes!
Many of these properties used the same color palette and furniture style that was expected for this type of living environment. Light green or sea foam green, mauve or pink with yellow accents. The furniture style was also predictable -- Early American wood furniture ranging in colors of dark mahogany to crackle white wash with over stuffed sofas and wing back chairs.
This past May, J+J Flooring invited interior designers from around the country to a symposium to discuss the impact of interior design in senior living environments. After three days of sharing and conversation, the overall consensus was that one design type does not fit all senior communities. The design aesthetic should be reflect the region in which the property is located and the population it serves.
The current senior population is living longer and is more sophisticated when it comes to making decisions. They want to remain in their own home for as long as they can.
When they do decide to move into a senior community, the transition can be challenging, especially if the community doesn't meet their needs. One of the biggest complaints among seniors is that they don’t want to be around a bunch of old people! Creating a space that reflects the vitality of its residents is essential to making a desirable living environment for seniors.
So how does interior design change the perception that “no old people” live here?
Those of us working in this market understand that there is more at stake than just providing a place for seniors to live. The owners and investors who develop these properties are there to make a profit. They also understand that these communities are going to attract residents with likeminded interests and tastes.
Designs that are most successful are those that are comfortable and functional. Understanding that this population varies in age, as well as physical and mental abilities makes selecting furnishings, lighting, and finishes important.
And flooring is always a concern for a number of reasons. Many of these folks need to use walkers, canes and wheelchairs to get around. If the flooring does not allow them move freely, their frustration may cause them to move to another community. Flooring is also important to staff. If the flooring choice made does not perform and needs to be replaced frequently, then the stress on the care staff and maintenance staff could lead to a high turnover rate.
Wall and surface colors that reflect light are also important in creating a comfortable space. If the colors are too extreme, they will be jarring to aging eyes. Green is a hard color to make work although it is soothing and refreshing, choosing the right shade that isn’t too yellow or harsh is critical to making the overall space feel comfortable. The same is true for noise levels. If there are too many hard surfaces, the acoustics can be difficult for aging ears.
Universal design principals need to be practiced along with understanding that current design trends are not always appropriate for the locale that the property is in. As a designer, I want my interiors to be different but not so different that they do not reflect the local culture or outdoor environment that surrounds the property.
Understanding that seniors have different tastes than their children is also an import consideration. The issue is if the family members of the resident feel uncomfortable being in the community, then they will not visit as often, which leads to loneliness and family isolation for the resident.
Keeping the colors upbeat and creating areas where family and friends feel welcomed makes a community feel more vibrant. Design is very import to creating a caring and holistic environment that encourages living long happy lives.
I am proud to say that I am a senior living interior designer. I look forward to the next project I’ll work on, because I know in the end that no old people will ever live in the spaces I create. I work to make sure each space has a purpose for the residents, staff and visitors, if you would like more information how we can help your senior property reflect the vitality of the residents that you currently have and gain the attention of new residents, drop us a line and let us show you how we can make your senior property a place where everyone wants to be regardless of their age……………
This past month I had the opportunity to collaborate with another interior designer on one of her design projects. The art of design can be said to involve nothing but a collaboration of ideas. Design is all about having an idea and making it into something tangible. I like working on design teams because I always learn something new about the design process. After working in the interior design field for over 20 years I am amazed at how much there is to discover.
Designers who like to collaborate usually are more affective at communicating abstract ideas and getting others to respond with their own. When an interior designer works with either an architect or another interior designer, they bring their individual expertise and experience to the table. They also bring an open mind. Something that not everyone who works in a creative occupations has. Being open to new ways of looking at the world can help the design process be more real not just for the designers but for the clients who hired us. Reality in the sense that if an idea is so new or cutting edge it may not be realistic or feasible for the current situation. Having a likeminded collaborator who understands the intended outcome of the project can help reel in those out of the box ideas without dampening the enthusiasm for the overall design. They can also help communicate those ideas to someone who isn’t as open minded and help them get on board with that concept and see it through to the end.
Design teams that start together for the sole purpose of creating a great structure usually foresee problems a lot earlier than when an individual doing design by themselves. Design teams that include developers: who have the idea, an architect: who creates the overall form: the engineer: who is the realist who keeps those forms in check; the interior designer: who understands the human element and can anticipate the how the space will really be used, and the contractor or crafts person who actually builds this idea into a physical object. When every member of the team comes in with an open mind and is ready to share their ideas, great things happen. Design Build Projects are not only created on time and on budget, but the client gets a lot more than they thought was possible.
Creating the right blend of talent for a design team isn’t as easy as you might think. Finding the right mix of people to work together is like trying to put together a pro football team full of rookies and expect to win the next Super Bowl. Not all designers, architects. engineers and contractors get along. Finding the right mix of team members who can share ideas without going on an ego trip who never have worked together can take some time. But when that team is formed and has success they usually can repeat that success as long as all of the team members stay in sync.
If a client is interested in building a successful team that they can count on for multiple projects then I want them to consider not just who is the best at what they do, but do the people they select have an open mind and mature ego. Collaborating with other design professionals can be the best part of being a designer; it is also the most frustrating part! Not all designers are team players and because of that some collaborative efforts fail. Hiring a rookie design team is risky but can be incredibly rewarding if the team has the right mindset from the beginning and understands the client’s objectives for the project.
If you are considering creating a design team for your next design project and want to include an interior designer, talk to us. Mulholland Art & Design Commercial Interiors has the expertise and the willingness to be open minded to share ideas and to collaborate with you and your team for a great project. We love to hear what you think about design teams and your experience with collaboration. Go to our contact page and send us your comments on this article!
Conformity is something that as a designer I can’t tolerate. As a designer your first instinct is to create something new; doesn’t have to be completely new, but it should have something interesting or exciting that hasn’t been used quite in that way before. When anyone considers hiring an interior designer or architect it’s because they want something that is unique or different that isn’t off the shelf.
Senior living design has become somewhat of an off the shelf commodity. The communities that are being built now are looking a lot alike. They are conforming to a particular model or style that is becoming stagnate and boring. This was the concern several decades ago when the only place for someone who was at a certain age and had health issues could live and be safe would be a nursing home. It became known as “God’s waiting room”. When the idea of creating a “55 and over” community came about that was really new! The idea that someone who had retired or was getting ready to retire and didn’t have children living with them could buy a house with a yard and have a neighbors who were their same age. They could even live next to a golf course! It was great especially for couples who wanted to move to warmer climates from the northeast or mid-west where the winters were endless. This concept has become pretty formulated to the point that some 55 and over individuals don’t want to move to communities like this anymore. They have a different mindset that says just because I am a certain age doesn’t mean I want to conform to the idea that I need to live with others who are also a certain age.
Right now the ideas that are formulating around the ideal community for seniors to move to is anything but formulaic. The individual needs of seniors varies to make a community that conforms to the notion that every senior wants the same amenities and services is becoming outdated. Communities that are individual based offer a variety of options for their residents to choose from including the size and style of their living space to how many types of restaurants they offer. Variety is definitely the spice of life even if you are ninety! Senior communities that are investing in redesigning their common areas to accommodate the need for variety of individuals and tastes are finding that they have more to offer potential residents than their competitors.
If 5 star dining isn’t part of your overall ideal living environment how about redesigning your activity rooms and library to accommodate web based lectures and streaming movies? The idea that a big open room that can hold endless amounts of folding tables and chairs for bingo night are gone. Many seniors would rather spend their time with friends and family on Facebook or Skype than play bingo- that doesn’t mean you can’t have a multi-functional space that can accommodate a sophisticated casino night that might be reminiscent of a James Bond movie or have a dance night featuring the sounds of Elvis and Buddy Holly. The idea is not to conform to the notion that seniors only want or need certain things to be happy, but to explore the options of what individuals might want instead.
Seniors who are living happy and productive lives stay mentally and physically healthier. They are less of a burden on their families. As we all thrive to live better we need to think about the future of what senior living environments should look like from our own perspective regardless of how old we are now. Because eventually we will be there too. I will not conform to the idea that being old means I need to live in a place that doesn’t reflect my personality or individualism and neither should the seniors who today are facing this very situation. We need as a design community and as a society take into consideration that everyone is different and that’s great! Let’s inject some spice and have more variety in the environments we are designing for a rapidly growing senior community and promote the idea that individuality is something for everyone regardless of your age! We’d love to hear from you, send us your comments on this blog and ideas on what you do to stand out from the crowd!
This summer my husband had back surgery. He didn't injure his back in an accident, or a work related injury as defined by OHSA. (www.osha.gov). He had a compressed disk in his lower back. As an interior designer who designs environments for business I can tell you that he is not alone. I can tell you that when I walk into an office, a hospital or even a hotel, I immediately can tell if the staff have a work space designed to support a healthy work environment.
In the past year many scientific studies have shown that excessive sitting without moving causes such diseases as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. As well as a host of other concerns including mental health issues and physical pain. The conclusions are not firm why excessive sitting is becoming the new smoking, but what is known is that this is causing many people to have additional medical problems that will shorten their life expectancy and ruin their quality of life they now have.
Back issues usually are the result of some sort of injury. If we consider excessive sitting an injury, than in my husband's case this is why he had back surgery. He sits more at work than anywhere else. Back pain among those who work is common. The preventative options are available for anyone who is willing to use them. Ergonomics: the study of how humans relate to the objects around them has shown us that sitting the right way so that we are using our body correctly will avoid injury. The problem is that there are very few people who 1) sit correctly and 2) understand the relationship between sitting and back pain.(see the diagram below for proper sit/stand positions for working at a computer) The other issue is the chair we sit in. The typical office chair has some adjustments that can be made so that the chair will "fit" the person sitting in it, but not all chairs are created equal and not all chairs "fit" everyone. My husband for instance is 6'-5" tall. He has a thin build and he is not sedentary except when he is at work. When he is home he likes to sit and watch TV but that isn't his only activity. So why is sitting at work causing him so much agony? The answer isn’t so easy to answer, but here are few things to consider.
He is doing the same repetitive activity for long periods of time; he simply isn't taking a break. It sounds counter intuitive, take a break from sitting?? Yes take a break from sitting, get up and move around. It will do wonders for your productivity and your back! Why moving is a good idea seems more like common sense to me than a way to avoid an early death: it relates to notion of too much of a good thing is usually bad. If you find yourself sitting whether you have a great chair or not for more than an hour, get up. We were not designed to sit all day, nor were we designed to stand all day. We are designed to move and to move freely without pain. The holistic approach to design interiors keeps us aware of all of these issues. Is there enough space to move freely? Is there a balance of natural and artificial light to help us see better? Is our chair, desk or work table designed for the activity that we are doing? These are important elements to consider; maybe even more important than color of paint we choose for the walls.
If we are truly striving to live a long productive life we need to think about how we are spending our time on a daily basis. If you find yourself feeling stiff or uncomfortable sitting at your desk maybe it is time to look at your work environment? Maybe you also need to make sure that you make time to get up to move and give your eyes a break from looking at that screen. If you can do this now I bet you will have the quality of life you really want today and in the future. I encourage my clients to consider all the elements of their space before they begin a remodel or change in décor. Looking at the space as a whole, including the furniture that is used by those who sit for their job is crucial to creating a great place to work... If you want to know more about how design can help your business go to our contacts page and send us a note. We love to hear your concerns and offer you some advice on how to create a great work environment for your business!
I just came back from a wonderful event sponsored by J+J FLOORING GROUP. They wanted to know what "The Active Aging Challenge" will be in senior living design. J+J is a carpet manufacturer so naturally they are looking for new ideas for their product development team, but they are also seeing senior living design as a new market for their products. As a senior living interior designer who has worked on several projects in independent, assisted and memory care design; I have used a lot of flooring! Mostly carpet. The reason as was heavily discussed by the designers from all over the country in attendance is that carpet symbolizes home, hospitality and not anything to do with a cold institutional environment that is most likely associated with nursing homes. The problem is carpet can be a maintenance nightmare if it isn't cleaned or is installed poorly. It is also can harbor of nastiness; like bacteria and other bodily fluids that are associated with disease. infection control has been and always will be an issue in acute care in hospitals. Patients rooms typically do not have carpeting installed because of these problems. it just common sense! But there is that sticky issue of creating a space that is warm and homelike, because we all know that we heal better when we are home than in a hospital! There is also the cost factor of replacing carpeting frequently because of these issues.
So what does this have to do about having a bunch of designers sitting around a table from all around the country talking about Active Senior Aging?? A lot! Everyone sitting at the table had a carpet or flooring nightmare to share as well as a flooring success. Senior living is in a state of change mainly because of the onslaught of baby boomers coming into retirement. The other major factor that is of great concern is that we as a species are living longer. There are more centurions than there ever were in our collective human history. Our lifestyle has been devoted in the past 40 years to eating more healthy foods, becoming more active and getting preventative health care during our "productive working life". We continue doing this as we age so that when we are in our eighties we typically don't feel or even act like an old person. If we compared someone who is eighty in 2015 to someone who was eighty in 1965 the difference would be staggering! In those 50 years we have learned so much about ourselves and our bodies that we can now say that unless something catastrophic happens that is out of my control, I will continue to take control of my health and well-being to live a long and happy life! But who will take care of me? I can't do this all alone and where will I live where I will feel safe and have my family and friends around me?? These were the bigger questions that I am not sure a flooring manufacturer can answer but what a flooring manufacture can do is help those of us who are working to find those answers by providing the products we need to design spaces that are welcoming and safe for all ages but especially for the particular needs of seniors.
Below are a list of the topics that were part of the discussions during the J+J design symposium on Active Aging:
My personal take always from this experience is that no matter where you live in the US, most design firms are looking at senior living design as a valuable market segment for their firms. I also learned that not every client (senior living operators) is interested in creating spaces that are hip and trendy. Our real client can be the 60 year old daughter who is looking for somewhere for her 85 year old mother to live or the 85 year old senior who does not have any children who needs some assistance but doesn't what to live with a bunch of old people! And that no matter who you work for that understanding how the actual design objectives and decisions will affect all those who use the space are important to having a successfully designed senior living community.
If you would like to learn more about how to approach the interior design of a new or a remodel of an existing senior living property we would be happy to show you how our 10+ years of senior living design experience can help you make your project a success! Go to our contact page and drop us a line!
People are drawn to great interior spaces. When we enter a room our senses take over, we immediately see, hear and smell things that make that moment meaningful. That happens when you walk into a room that is well thought out and planned. The job of an interior designer is making that experience happen every time by designing interiors that have a purpose. The power of design can be utilized to your advantage if you know a few things about what it is you are trying to accomplish. In business, having a business plan before you open your doors is essential to that business’s success, having a design plan is also critical to having a successful interior space. Business interiors impact the bottom line no matter what it is that business is doing whether we admit it or not if a place looks good, we are more likely to go back regardless of the type of business it is.
Interior design is more than just picking out a color palette and finding one of a kind pieces of artwork or furniture. It is about the space we as humans inhabit that is surrounded by some sort of outer structure. We often divide these spaces into rooms, what we need to do is think about these spaces as more than just rooms. We already define these rooms by what we do in them, for instance you would never say “come to the room with the bed” if you were directing someone to a place where they can sleep; you would say go to the bedroom. The same is true when we talk about business interiors. We have definitions for rooms that we do things in like the break room or the conference room, but do these rooms flow with the rest of the work space or are they just rooms with names that are familiar? Today’s offices spaces are changing because of the way technology has changed the way we do business. Having rooms with conventional names may not reflect the way that we do business now or in the future. Having interiors with rooms or open spaces that are not defined maybe more appropriate to a particular business culture or purpose than having rooms or offices that are traditionally named.
Defining the areas or rooms by the things we humans do in them is natural. Creating a great work space is easy as long as it has a purpose. Understanding what that purpose is and how well that environment is designed, is what makes great business interiors work. Having a design plan that addresses the purpose of those spaces is what helps us as humans be more efficient in the work we do.
If you would like more information on how MADCI can help you define the purpose of your interior space at your business go to our contact page and let us know your questions or design concerns. We’ll be happy to offer you some quick solutions. We can also schedule an appointment to see your space in person. We look forward to helping you understand that interior design with a purpose can make a difference in your business environment and bottom line!