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Creating a Positive Resident Experience During a Senior Living Renovation

05.04.22

Transitioning into an assisted living, memory care, or independent senior living community is a major life event. Like any other move to a new home, this can be a stressful time for aging residents and their families. Residents, who have selected and invested in their new homes, are anticipating a restful and serene environment with all the comforts of (their former) home. While owners, operators, and facilities managers may be excited to break ground on a new addition or renovation, residents may not share in this enthusiasm, dwelling instead on potential impacts on their lifestyles. It is important, therefore, when undergoing any renovation or addition to senior living facilities, to keep the residents top of mind, develop a seamless transfer plan, prioritize safety, and engage in transparent and regular communication.

Residents Come First

Before renovations begin, one of the first focuses should be on the current residents’ well-being. Not all residents are the same and it’s important to accommodate their differences. For your curious residents, scheduling site tours to show them exactly what is going on will keep them informed and provide a platform to ask questions. For those that are sensitive to change, coordinating off-campus events can keep the construction off their mind, during especially loud or intrusive activities. There are all kinds of ways to meet the needs of those interfacing with change.

Residents in senior living communities are very curious individuals. They will be interested in most aspects of the work being performed. Ensure the construction team is prepared to field questions and interact with the residents in a way that showcases the renovation as a positive experience.

Resident Transfer

When undergoing a significant renovation to an existing facility, there will come a time during the renovation when residents will likely have to move to a different area of the facility while work is being completed. This can be very confusing and stressful for the residents and staff. Having a resident transfer plan in place is key to keeping them calm and making the process run smoothly. Due to all the repositioning of residents, the construction will happen in phases. Once one phase is complete, the residents will move back to their original, yet newly remodeled, homes and the team will move on to the next phase.


Phases 1-4 plus the Memory Care unit at Cedarfield Community.

Resident Safety

Safety is everyone’s responsibility on the job site; however, safety precautions look much different when the team is working in an occupied facility. A site safety plan at a senior living community  may include:

Before beginning any phase of activity, the appropriate safety precautions should be taken. Barriers are placed to keep residents clear of construction. On typical job sites, areas of potential danger are blocked off with hanging plastic sheets, colored flags, and/or tape. In any situation where residents and patients are  present during active construction, STARC walls are often the barrier of choice because they provide effective physical, auditory, and visual separation from the adjacent construction work.


Hourigan Assistant Superintendent Renee Armentrout installing a STARC wall system.

Constant Communication

Communication is the key to success on any project, but especially those of a sensitive nature, like at senior living communities. Communication starts well before construction begins. It is ideal to have a project executive meet with the director of the facility prior to the commencement of any construction activities to discuss goals, ensure resident safety, and to set up the entire project team for a successful delivery.

Another way to communicate with the residents is to set up town hall meetings for them and their families. This gives them the opportunity to voice their opinions, thoughts, concerns, or ask questions. Providing the residents with a monthly newsletter to provide updates, photos, and next steps is also a great form of communication.

In addition, some residents might be more visual interest. Inviting them on site tours to show the progression and explain what is happening is a way to make them feel engaged. For those residents who may not get around as easily, setting up a touchscreen monitor in the lobby so they can see a live construction feed or uploaded photos is another form of engaging and communicating with them.

 

A seamless resident experience during senior living renovation requires the engagement of a seasoned construction manager. These facilities are a lot of hard work with a never-ending list of precautions; however, they also bring great joy. Given the opportunity to help improve the living environment of those who have already endured so much is such an honor and great accomplishment. We are grateful to be able to provide a safe and luxurious place for them to call home.