Three Design-Focused Factors on Caring for the Caregiver in Senior Living Facilities

August 17, 2022
Susan Hinz

The importance of caregivers has never been more apparent than it has the past several years with frontline workers, healthcare heroes, and overburdened family members dominating the headlines. While we all understand the critical role of a caregiver, it’s important to ask “how can we care for the caregiver?”

With 7 out of 10 people requiring assisted living care in their lifetime, demand is expected to grow by an additional one million beds by 2040. The need for caregivers is clear, but where will these dedicated workers come from?

Nationwide surveys have shown heightened rates of burnout, according to APA’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey, with 79% of employees reporting work-related stress in the month before the survey. As a byproduct of the pandemic, heightened awareness regarding the conditions and the tireless efforts of caregivers and healthcare heroes was brought to the forefront. In the world of design, we must dive deeper to understand how to create spaces that not only consider future residents, but also support their caregivers to help meet the demands of a growing industry

In order for caregivers to provide the highest quality of care, it is critical to understand the specifics of their jobs and how they do them. Our Senior living Studio is focused on design efforts centered around both residents and staff, recognizing the relationship of quality experiences between both. We know that the spaces we create have a direct impact on the quality of care and quality of life for those who reside in our buildings.

Reflecting on and understanding the challenges faced by caregivers on a daily basis, here are 3 ways that we can design with them in mind:

1 – Access & Flexibility
While designing for the future residents of a senior living facility, it is important to consider how a space can be accessible and accommodating for all types of needs. Likewise, it is just as important that the built environment is set up in a way that allows caregivers to provide exceptional care.

For example, caregivers are often tasked with assisting a resident in the shower, requiring the two to be in close proximity. With this in mind, we strive to design bathrooms that provide optimal space for a caregiver to perform such a task, while also allowing adequate privacy to the resident.

Keeping access and flexibility at the forefront while designing for the caregivers allows us to make their job easier. In other words, creating ease and flow for caregivers as they focus on serving and caring for their residents.

When caregivers day-to-day tasks are more easily completed, particularly due to the way a space is designed, there are more opportunities for spontaneous interaction between resident and caregiver, further elevating both lives.

Madonna Manor

2- Technology
There is no question that technology plays a critical role in the way senior living facilities operate. The same is true for how technology will enhance the ways caregivers tend to residents’ needs.

Technological advancements have aided in keeping caregivers organized and up-to-date on the health and happiness of each resident they tend to. For example, health tracking tools and automated reminders keep caregivers accountable and refreshed on each unique want and need.

We are constantly looking for ways in which we can integrate technology into our projects for the benefit of residents and caregivers alike, realizing that technology will continue to be an important asset in the way senior living facilities function. Future caregivers will be more comfortable interacting with technology compared to any other generation before, and the industry will be further enhanced by its integration into everyday tasks.

3- Choice
While caregivers find unique ways to integrate a resident’s lifestyle into their new home, it is just as important that we create spaces for functionality and respite for these caregivers.

Recognizing the challenges inherent in the profession, we strive to create spaces that provide caregivers the freedom to choose what type of space best supports them and the task at hand.

For example, there might be two distinct spaces for caregivers, either inside the resident neighborhood which encourages spontaneous interaction between residents and caregivers, or a place of retreat that offers privacy and a place for administrative tasks.

Overall, we value the opportunity for these individuals to choose the types of spaces that best support their needs throughout the day, as they continue to work attentively to meet the needs of the resident.

Throughout every phase of the process, we evaluate our designs against the needs of both the residents and caregivers who will live and work in these spaces. The success of our projects is dependent on their health and happiness and the importance we place on understanding how people will interact with each and every space is key to the way we work and design.