Planning and designing retirement homes for seniors is a lot different when compared to other types of homes. It is the residents and their needs that you need to keep in mind while planning and designing this kind of home. You will want to make things as comfortable and convenient for them, whether it is to sleep, access things, or move around.
Here are a few guidelines you need to keep in mind while planning and designing retirement homes:
- As far as possible have independent bedrooms for the residents. Make sure there is enough space for a comfortable bed and a wardrobe. The bed surface has to be 40 to 45 cm from the floor. Ensure good sound insulation for restful sleep.
- Each bedroom should have at least two electrical sockets (on either side of the bed), a telephone socket and a television socket. Also think of a video-entry phone on the bedside table.
- Since mobility is an issue with seniors, you have to look at the possibility of lateral transfer from the bed to a wheelchair.
- The bedroom and the bathroom doors should be wide enough to allow wheelchair access. Sliding door or a door that opens outward for bathroom would be ideal. Make sure the bathroom door handle is easy to hold and open.
- Bathrooms have to be spacious enough for complete rotation of the wheelchair. The toilet bowl has to be easily reachable through lateral transfer. Choose toilet bowls with adjustable height so that it can be used autonomously by everyone. Have safety bars on either side of the toilet bowl to facilitate use.
- Avoid installing bathtubs in the bathrooms. A comfortable shower with a shower seat would be ideal. The shower handles should be easy to access and use. Use anti slip materials to avoid falls.
- Avoid pedestal wash basins as they can be difficult to access. While installing mirrors make sure a seated person can see himself/herself in it easily.
- Make sure the shelves and drawers of the wardrobes are at least 60cm above the floor. Ideally the clothes rail has to be at the height of 140cm from the floor. Sliding doors can make it easy to access.
- If you are providing meals, kitchens may not be necessary. Yet you can install small kitchenettes that allow for some basic cooking. Make sure the sink and shelves are easy to access.
- Give a range of possible home layout options for the residents to choose from. Have adequate space for storage.
- Make space for verandahs or balconies that can hold a table and at least two chairs. Make them easily accessible through wheelchairs
- Provide a common space for some exercises and recreational activities.
- Safety should be one of your main concerns when it comes to planning and designing retirement homes. All external doors and windows should have safety systems installed on them. Make sure the front doors are burglar-proof.
- Make sure the locks on all doors are accessible from both sides.
- If there are differences in the floor levels in different areas of the retirement home, you may need to install ramps to make it wheelchair-friendly. As far as possible avoid building steps.
There are many more things you can think of when designing retirement homes. Visit a few assisted living homes and talk to a few people to get more ideas that you can use in your design.