Scott Heaney, AIA
What is a household? In senior living design, a household is a tool for providing a relatively new care concept – resident centered care. This concept has evolved over the last 10 years and utilizes households as repeatable blocks of ten to twenty private resident rooms sharing a central dining, activity, and living area. They are self-sufficient and have their own visual identity or way-finding theme. Often the central space is defined by a large hearth and vaulted ceilings with high windows that capture natural light. Interior furnishings are high quality and richly patterned, while being highly durable. Households are connected to a central administrative hub, but the daily resident experience is in his or her own “home-like” atmosphere.
In contrast, the industry standard for the past 60 years has been to organize buildings into wings or pods of semi-private rooms dependant on a central hub for bathing, dining, and activities. The resident wings were repeated monotonously and outfitted with institutional grade interior furnishings. The “nursing home” quality of life available was sterile, depressing.
There are several factors that influence how we tailor household size. External factors include lot size and shape, topography, zoning restrictions, and proximity to neighbors. Internal factors include the company culture, religious affiliations, resident care levels provided, connectivity and travel distance, building and accessibility codes, extra amenities, food service concept, staffing concept, and technology. Ultimately, the right size household is customizable. Customizable so the finished project dignifies residents, family members, and staff.