AUSTIN, TX—At this point, it is quite apparent that life has changed for all Americans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While all age groups are susceptible to contracting the virus, the CDC cautions that older adults are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19.
Senior living communities are making adjustments to programming and activities to keep seniors safe, according to STG Design, a 40-year-old commercial architecture and interior design firm. But, these communities have always had cleanliness and safety in mind. So could design of these facilities really make a meaningful difference?
You can’t clean what you can’t see, so in recent years, the design of senior living amenity centers have transitioned from dim lighting, overstuffed club chairs and ornate wooden details to bright aesthetics that promote cleanliness. This means designing with vaulted ceilings, large tile, solid laminate flooring, wood-look tile floor planks and easily cleaned surfaces. STG principal Larry Meeks recently provided insight into how design can help create safe and clean surroundings for the currently vulnerable senior population.
“In assisted living environments, residents don’t prepare their own food and eat in common areas for socializing, which can cause the spread of illness,” Meeks tells GlobeSt.com. “Sterilizing surfaces includes finding the right combination for operators’ preferences along with cleaning products for sterilization. We have to use finishes that don’t come across as institutional but also won’t be damaged. And, we have to create places where families want to visit. These new environments will be more conducive to having a cleaner environment while avoiding an institutional environment. We pay attention to lessons learned and ways of improvement in a situation like COVID-19. It’s important to be open to ways of dealing with these things but also being open to facts.”
In addition to materials, Meeks says these designs include a combination of natural light, color balance lighting systems and bright colors using the psychology of color.
STG Design has designed independent living developments and active adult communities that reflect the evolving needs of today’s senior population in more than 20 states. It is heavily involved throughout Texas, Nashville and in many other areas of the country.