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Creating the comforts of home: a look at Sunrise senior-friendly design

Sunrise celebrates 35 years of serving seniors on December 5! To honor this milestone, we’re reflecting on assisted living – past, present and what’s ahead.  

Providing a safe, comfortable environment for seniors involves not only having expertise to create beautiful spaces – it takes understanding their care needs, too.  Hear more from Andy Coelho, Senior vice president of Construction, Facilities and Design and Andrea Owensby, senior director of Design.

Take us back to the very first days at Sunrise. What role did design play?
Design and aesthetics have always been a huge part of Sunrise communities. Founders Paul and Terry Klaassen were adamant about creating an environment that fostered a high quality of life, guided by our Principles of Service. And they believed this was only possible in environments that people find warm, nurturing, comfortable and welcoming.

From the very first Sunrise, communities have been designed to feel like home. Not home-like, but home. We’ve always designed our buildings with our residents in mind to help ensure their independence and dignity and with the types of layouts and arrangements that would make the best experience. For instance, placing the TV next to the fireplace and including large front porches with comfortable rocking chairs.

How might senior design evolved over the years?
While we’ve evolved and adapted over the years, as regulations and new products have come forward, many of our original, basic principles still apply to today’s communities.

For us, it’s always been about creating the best environment designed with our residents’ needs and preferences top of mind. We know it’s important for our community to look attractive both inside and out, and we know that it is even more important that our buildings are designed with senior-friendly touches, to help enhance their quality of life. You’ll find examples of this throughout our communities, including aesthetically pleasing custom handrails that help residents navigate around the builder easier, which supports their independence.  

In every decision we make, we check ourselves against our principles and partner with other departments, such as Dining and Programming. This allows us to take a look at the full picture of our residents’ daily lives and make informed choices that bring them the best possible home.  A great example of this in action is our dining room chairs, which are specifically outfitted to be the right size in height and pitch to maximize comfortability, along with wheels which allows for ease of use.

How would you describe the Sunrise look and feel?
We have communities across the U.S., Canada and UK, and while the design elements vary by community, all of them evoke a sense of warmth and comfort. We want our buildings to be a part of the larger community, so our design and architectural elements will vary depending on the location. On the West Coast, you’ll find our communities tend to reflect more Spanish stucco styles with clay tile, which is better suited for the surrounding neighborhoods versus the traditional Victorian mansion style you’ll find on much of the East coast.

You’ll notice that we don’t apply a one-size-fits-all approach to design. Just like my house or your house are different, so are our Sunrise communities. Each community is made up of unique individuals in unique surroundings, and design is reflected as such.

What do you see as the future of senior design?
In a sense, more of the same! Designing spaces that meet our residents’ needs and preferences while ensuring their independence and dignity will never go out of style. We anticipate seeing a universal design that allows for flexible and adaptable spaces to support a wide range of programming and activities throughout the entire building.

We also know that Baby Boomers have been making a lot of modifications to their own homes over the years. As this generation starts to move into our communities, we will want to make sure we incorporate some of these updates, where it makes sense. Technology around door locks and levers instead of knobs come to mind.

Interested in learning more? Head on over to our Designing for Seniors page and check out our Design Guide developed by our in-house interior design experts for senior-friendly design tips. 



This post first appeared on Sunrise Blog | Sunrise Senior Living, please read the originial post: here

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