What solves problems, sells homes and can even make you smile? The answer is simple: good design. In senior living communities, design influences every aspect of the residents’ experience—from where they gather to the food they eat. Design is also a deciding factor when prospective residents and their families consider moving into a senior living community. Does the environment delight the senses? Does the living space feel like a home?

Today, older adults prefer convenience, modern amenities and a resort-style experience where they live. As a result, design and build experts need to become increasingly innovative when creating or renovating senior living communities. Andrey Teleguz, President of Scopos Hospitality Group, recently sat down with Morrison to discuss this trend. With a background in hospitality equipment manufacturing and design, Teleguz launched his own company in 2009 to offer more creative design solutions for his clients. He has worked with Morrison Community Living for twelve years to design and build innovative senior living spaces with a high-end sensibility.

1. Customization creates value

Gone are the days of one-size-fits all senior living communities. Residents with different backgrounds, abilities and lifestyles are moving in and expect their needs to be met. Design features should help address these differences. For example, Teleguz points out that residents in long-term care or assisted living centers benefit from modular mobile kitchens that offer in-room cooking and dining. Customized menus made to order give residents a higher level of service and satisfaction.

2. Fostering a sense of community

A sense of community helps seniors feel more engaged with each other and their surroundings. There are several ways to help influence a sense of community through design. Consider building outdoor spaces for meditation, al fresco dining, or other resort-style amenities to attract active seniors. Residents can enjoy sun-filled mornings on an outdoor terrace or gather around a fire pit to swap stories at dusk. For seniors who spend more time indoors, cooking demonstrations or art classes can help them feel engaged. Designing flexible dining spaces or multi-purpose rooms will go a long way to build your community.

3. Building a strong identity

In addition to building community, design helps establish a brand’s identity. Think of brands like Four Seasons or Hotel Indigo. For these hotels, everything from the building’s exterior structure to the interior décor helps establish a strong sense of place for guests. Like hotels and hospitality centers, design elements of senior living communities create an identity and influence the residents who live there. When creating or re-designing a dining space, Teleguz makes sure a clear identity is established. No detail should be overlooked—from staff uniforms and signage to the name of the venue or items on the menu.

4. De-centralizing service centers

To make them more convenient, service locations are being distributed throughout communities. Instead of one main reception desk, some communities offer multiple locations for residents or families to check in. Other senior living communities are ditching banquet-style service centers for multiple boutique restaurants—each with its own culinary identity—located around the property.

Teleguz notes this trend in decentralizing the kitchen. “The kitchen is moving from the back of the house to front and center,” he says. “In this way, the food becomes the showpiece.” He also describes how residents are delighted to see food being prepared and enjoy the prospect of interacting with chefs. Action stations and made-to-order cooking are additional opportunities to customize each resident’s experience.

5. Harnessing innovative design solutions from overseas 

Last year, Teleguz attended international hospitality exhibitions including the Host show and World Expo in Milan. He is excited to see some trends from Europe already reaching senior living centers in the U.S. For example, flexible dining venues save space and can be modified for special events. And modular equipment with multiple functions can be used to transform a “pop-up” style coffee shop into an ice cream stand. Who’s up for a coffee and ice cream float?

Want to find out more about how design is shaping the senior living experience? Register below for “The Evolution of Senior Living Design,” a Morrison Community Summit webinar on February 3, 2016.

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