Living facilities that are constructed for people who are challenged or compromised in some way—-by an illness, disability, surgery or aging—-strive to assure that the occupants feel safe and empowered. This is particularly true for residents in an independent living facility who are still mobile and active, yet are no longer living in the place called “home.”
Whether it was because they needed more day-to-day care, they wanted to downsize their living space, or they felt isolated, seniors see an independent living facility as their answer. The situation with seniors is different than that of a hospital patient who can look forward to going home. Sometimes the decision to make this move was by their own choice; sometimes their family has made the decision for them.
Even though a hospital patient might have to endure a wall color they don’t like or artwork that is not their favorite, they can do this because their stay in the hospital is temporary. Let it be known, however, that studies have shown unpleasant situations actually slow down the healing process. That said, a hospital patient will be going home soon. A senior, however, has left his or her home and will not be returning.
An Integrative Space™ approach can help with this transition because it considers all aspects of life: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It provides a template for creating a space that “just feels good”—-something about it is “right.”
Using neuro-scientific studies, architectural considerations and the ancient art of Feng Shui, an Integrated Space is more than functional and attractive. It is, above all, an inspired place for those who are making this big move, willingly or not.
One area that creates an initial impression for someone who is considering an independent living facility is the lounge—-because it’s the first taste of what’s to come.
The lounge is a shared space where residents can sit, talk to other residents, wait for someone to pick them up, or visit with friends and family. It serves as the role of a living room (a public one) and sets the tone for the intentions of the facility.
Here are some tips for creating Integrative Space in a common lounge area:
- Assure that furniture is arranged so there are conversational areas that accommodate large groups as well as just one visitor.
- Keep the TV focused in ONE area of the lounge to accommodate those who won’t want to watch or even listen to it.
- Have a reminder of nature somewhere—–fresh flowers or plants (nice silk ones are acceptable).
- Provide some first-class distractions: an aquarium, an aviary, a beautiful scene out one of the windows, a fountain, sculptures or art on the wall.
- Have coffee, tea and/or water available as a hospitality gesture.
- Position a greeter or concierge near the lounge to answer questions, call a resident or direct visitors in the right direction.
Obviously, there must be space for walkers and wheel chairs to move around so the furniture can’t be too cozy. It’s important to keep the furniture clean and up-to-date as well. It should be a welcoming place for all.
The goal of an Integrated Space is to create an environment a senior will feel at home in and proud to show off.
It doesn’t negate that they may miss their home terribly, but it may help them look upon their new life as that next great adventure.