A room with a view

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A room with a view
A room with a view
Ever conscious of meeting elders' needs, the designers and planners involved in creating the Households at Levindale strapped on different pairs of vision-impairing eyeglasses to see their new facility with future residents' eyes. The result is a community that's safer and more aesthetically appealing to residents, their families and staff.

The Households at Levindale is an 84-bed long-term care facility that's part of the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital. Owned by LifeBridge Health, the Baltimore-based community offers the continuum of skilled nursing services, including rehabilitation, respite, hospice and comfort, and pain management. It started welcoming residents on Jan. 10, 2012.

As its name suggests, the $31 million Households at Levindale is a skilled nursing facility that operates under the household model of care. It successfully uses the Eden Alternative and Neighborhood models used as guides.

Each level of the three-story facility is divided into two “households” with 14 residents in each.

One of the challenges for architect Timothy Barnhill, principal at the firm Hord Coplan Macht, was designing a multilevel vertical building in an urban area. And it involved adding 87,000 square feet to an existing nursing facility.

“It's an existing building on a congested site, so we had to work very hard to get everything we wanted on the site in a manner that worked,” Barnhill said. “In the resident rooms, we worked outward, going from the room. The building just fit into the site as it worked.”

Significant new infrastructure work was needed, including a new entry road, a new stoplight and a new power service, Barnhill said.

A Town Center — which features a rotating permanent exhibit from the Jewish Museum of Maryland, a synagogue, a gift shop, a café/pub and a grand piano area — connects the new and old buildings.

Each of the six households has a different theme and color scheme, explained Barnhill, who described the overall interior as 1960s and 1970s modernist, with sleek contemporary lines.

“We were looking at where this generation has grown up and what would they feel comfortable with,” Barnhill said.
Staff members must receive extensive training before they can work in the households said Aric Spitulnik, Levindale's president and chief operating officer. Thorough, well thought out interviews and a rigorous hiring process result in more loyal workers, he explained.

“It's like nothing else in post-acute care,” he says. “Since they have been here since the opening, the staff has their own sense of ownership.”

Spitulnik's favorite feature of the facility is each household's kitchen area, since this represents the personal choice aspect of this care model. Each household has a fully operational kitchen, so residents can request whatever they want to eat day-to-day.

“If you're a cook, you develop relationships with residents,” Spitulnik said. If a resident wants less salt added to a dish, the cook can accommodate that.”

LESSONS LEARNED
--In bedrooms, carpeting is more home-like than hard surfaces

--Fostering good relationships with family members can yield great volunteers

--Consider having a mocked-up room early on so you can test wheelchair and other accessibility concerns

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