Levindale Eden Alternative Nursing Center Invests In Elder-Centered Renovations

May 02, 2011
The Eden Alternative

Even as consumers are increasingly demanding more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing nursing home and long-term care living environments, limited capital and the poor economy has forced operators to find budget-friendly and smart renovation projects to remain competitive, reports McKnight’s Long-Term Care News this week in an extensive survey of building trends in the seniors housing and care industry.

Unfortunately, the reporter does not specifically mention the impact of culture change on renovation trends in the industry. However, it’s clear from the article culture change is having a significant impact.

The article looked at trends in renovating both common living and dining areas and residents rooms. Industry experts find that common areas are getting cozier, with large spaces being replaced by more intimate and private areas.

For instance, the article reports that many nursing homes are abandoning dated cafeteria-like dining rooms in favor of more intimate café and bistro dining areas, such as the Eden Alternative Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Hospital and Nursing Center in Baltimore:

Levindale, for example, is undergoing a massive renovation and construction project that will incorporate a café and pub in the skilled nursing center’s “town center” to provide residents with more personalized dining and entertainment options. As an Eden Alternative facility, Levindale is constructing neighborhood kitchens — each shared by only 14 residents — with varying counter heights to accommodate wheelchair-bound residents, as well as those who prefer to perch on a stool.

“It’s about looking through the eyes of our residents and designing spaces and options that really support our culture and provide the best quality care and service for our residents,” says Levindale President and COO Aric Spitulnik.

Improving the  quality of personal living space for residents was also a trend in the story. One expert cited beds as the main item in a room that screamed “hospital.” Facilities now try to provide beds more similar to what would be in a person’s home, as opposed to in an institution.

Other “resident-inspired” (an almost nod towards person-centeredness) renovations include the construction of walls between resident beds and the addition of closets.

Closets, which were largely ignored in the past, also are getting a closer look as operators begin to recognize their impact on resident satisfaction, safety and even activities of daily living. There’s a growing trend to reconfigure basic single-rod closets with millwork cabinetry that divides closets and allows even wheelchair-bound residents to easily organize and locate personal items.

Finally, the article reports that more operators are investing in private rooms. Levindale, for example, plans on upping the availability of private rooms from 24 to between 130 and 150 with an ultimate goal of transitioning to entirely private residences, Spitulnik told McKnights.

Big kudos to Spitulnik and our friends at Levindale for investing in elder-centered renovations at their facility and for sharing their work with McKnight’s.

What was missing from the story were the many person-centered changes that nursing homes can make to vastly improve the quality of living for elders at no cost whatsoever. Please share with us in the comments section below examples of culture change that do not require major renovations.


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