A portion of Senior Housing News discussing the evolution of senior living communities, and the need to have spaces that can be used in multiple ways:
Building an independent living apartment that can convert to assisted living is not difficult from a design standpoint, as the Heritage Communities projects demonstrate. To switch from IL to AL, the rooms at Heritage at Sterling Ridge undergo some simple, discrete changes. For instance, stoves are shut off through a safety mechanism — just unplugging the stove is not sufficient, as a resident with cognitive issues may plug it back in, notes Jungman.
The stove safety mechanism at Heritage is “basically a light switch” that can be padlocked once it is flipped, and it is hidden from view to respect resident dignity. There’s a similar mechanism to lock patio doors, Jungman says.
Although these adaptations are straightforward, there are good reasons why convertible apartments are not standard at every community. A huge amount of time — between 60 and 80 hours — went into revising operational policies and strategizing about needed changes to support the model, according to Jungman.
“A lot of time and thought went into how we can best serve our residents,” she says. “Little things like how do we pick up trash, or know that Mrs. Jones is now AL, even though she’s in that IL apartment.”
There were licensing hurdles to clear and financial considerations as well.