Starting a new tradition: better quality of life through better quality of design

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Starting a new tradition: better quality of life through better quality of design
Starting a new tradition: better quality of life through better quality of design
Lisbon, ND, is a small town that takes pride in its high quality of life. Built in 1992, Lisbon's Parkside Lutheran Home quickly developed its own tradition of high quality of life and excellent care to match the values of its community.Unfortunately, Parkside's building was also designed with an eye toward the past. The entire facility was based on the institutional nursing care model, according to Jeri Zuber, CEO of architecture firm Horty-Elving.

The 42-bed not-for-profit had all the hallmarks of a traditional nursing home: double-wide corridors, large communal dining area, hospital-style shared rooms and, perhaps most egregious of all, a large, centralized nurse's station in each wing.

“In the original design,” recalls Sara Malin, one of the architects on the Parkside project, “the only place to sit was around that nursing station. When we first walked in, that's where all the residents hung out.”

Station elimination

Zuber, Malin and the rest of the Horty-Elving team adopted a number of aspects of the culture change movement while updating the Parkside facility. And the first thing to go were those nurse's stations.

“In the existing wings, we removed the nursing stations,“ Zuber says, “and we constructed kitchen, dining and living areas in their place.”

The motive behind it was two-fold. First, by removing the nurse's stations the facility lost much of its institutional, acute-care feeling. And by replacing them with common living areas, residents would have new, more homelike places to hang out.

The new Parkside is divided into four small communities. Horty-Elving split most of the double rooms into private rooms, and increased the census from 42 to 50 beds.

Dinner time

By creating smaller “neighborhood”-type settings, designers were able to do away with the massive dining area—much to the relief of Parkside's staff.

“For breakfast, lunch and dinner, they trucked all 40 of [the residents] from their rooms down to the central dining room, fed them, and then took them back,” Zuber says. “So what happened was, they spent all their time moving the residents.”

Having the new community dining areas so close to their rooms allows residents to walk the short distance for their meals, rather than being carted off by an aide.

And as for the old dining area? The space was converted into a town center, complete with a water fountain, fireplace, lounge area and café near the entrance.

Community decisions

The Horty-Elving team worked closely with residents and staff to select color schemes, finishing selections and other design details in order create a more pleasing atmosphere.

Carpet insets for each household provide helpful cues to residents and visitors so they can more easily find their way through the facility. Warm terra cotta, rich green, blue and gold color schemes also create identities for each of the households.


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Lessons Learned:

-Dining in small “neighborhood” settings is not only more comfortable for residents, it saves time for staff members

-When designing a facility, be sure to include enough space for socializing

-Work with residents and staff on the details in order to create a warm environment that feels like home to them
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