Design decisions: Rehab front and center

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Design decisions: Rehab front and center
Design decisions: Rehab front and center
Approaching design from a consumer's perspective was key to the success of Park Valley Inn Skilled Nursing and Rehab, its operators believe. Park Valley Inn, located in Round Rock, TX, just outside of Austin, is run by TRISUN Healthcare.

The biggest challenge for Mark Fritz, CEO of Remington Medical Resorts and designer of the facility, was creating a community where both short-term rehab and long-term residents feel comfortable.

Fritz didn't want short-term rehab residents to feel like they were living in a nursing home, so he split the building into two distinct entities. In total, the facility occupies 48,000 square feet, with 2,800 dedicated to the rehabilitation gym.

“The overall building design was intended to focus on rehab,” Fritz said. “With the separation of the two distinct sections, we took advantage of being able to provide private rooms, private bathrooms, dining and living areas, and separate serving kitchens for each section.”

Location sets tone
Fritz also made the critical decision to locate the rehabilitation gym right at the whole facility's main entrance.
“We did not want to attach one of the most important care delivery systems on the end of a wing as an afterthought. Focusing on what the guest is coming for emphasizes the facility focus as well,” Fritz said.

Locating the gym at the front of the facility also is important from a therapeutic standpoint in many ways, according to Shanni Ponce, a physical therapist at Park Valley and president of MBS Rehab.

It “really sets the tone of what the facility is all about,” Ponce said. “Residents and their families can see that rehab is a priority and see that it's not sedentary living here.”

Park Valley Inn's rehab area is not limited to current residents. It's open to anyone who wants to needs rehab services but doesn't need inpatient care. This is convenient for former residents who want to continue their therapy with a therapist they already know and trust.

The rehab gym's sheer size is what makes it special, according to Ponce. The gym has its own private treatment room, where therapists can work quietly with residents needing speech, cognitive and respiratory therapies. The gym also houses an activities-of-daily-living area where therapists can work with patients in simulated kitchens and bathing settings.

“The space allocation in the gym is excellent,” Ponce said. “It has nice, high ceilings, so we can use ceiling-mounted harnesses. When we have more room for state-of-the-art equipment, we can provide more aggressive therapy.”

Although the skilled-nursing and short-term residents are separated at Park Valley, the skilled nursing section was built to be just as accommodating as the rehab wing.

“The hallways and the bedrooms are really nicely laid out,” he explained. “The bathrooms are such that it allows for wheelchairs and walkers to maneuver very easily. Some of the older homes I've worked at have bathrooms that are so small that a patient might have to discard a walker or wheelchair, but not here.”

Lessons learned 

1. Don't ignore needs of skilled nursing residents when designing rehab elements

2. Use an open floor plan when building rehab gyms so patients are never unsupervised

3. Investing in the most advanced rehab equipment can lead to the best outcomes