Modern Factors in Senior Living Campus and Facility Planning<p>​Increasingly, senior living organizations are seeking to provide a combination of uses for a continuum of ages and care that is specific to each resident’s needs. While these aren’t new concepts, we’re seeing them rise higher on priority lists than ever before.<br></p><p>Modern care communities are being created to blend care efficiency with more nuanced treatment levels. While care options are becoming more specialized, we need to foster meaningful connections between those levels of community.​<br></p><h3>Mixed-Use, Multi-Generational Lifestyle Developments</h3><p>A prime example can be found with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) in La Crosse, Wisconsin. This continuing care retirement community includes 45 skilled/memory care units along with 35 assisted living, 11 independent living/guest spaces, and 32 guest rooms for retreat center participants.<br></p><p><img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/2023/FranciscanSistersPerpetualAdoration.jpg" alt="Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;535px;height&#58;283px;" />The facility addresses the Franciscan Sisters’ vision of bringing sisters, spread across a wide continuum of care spectrum, together on one campus. Following a comprehensive planning effort, they decided to renovate St. Rose Motherhouse to accommodate all care levels and move those living off-site into the Motherhouse. The existing configuration was not readily suited to incorporate each of the needed levels of care, which presented a great renovation challenge and required a strong commitment from the sisters to bring their vision to life.&#160;<br></p><p>Reflecting on why this renovation project was so important to FSPA, one of the sisters in leadership shared that it was part of how they enacted their assembly mandate to right-size their facilities, and it is vital to their future planning. She explained that they looked at their trends data knowing that they had two large buildings that were less than half full.&#160;<br></p><p>“We knew that as we moved forward, we would have fewer members and would not need both spaces,” she explained. “We realized it was not the best use of the assets we are stewarding to not use the buildings to their capacity. We discerned, as a congregation, that we wanted all of our senior members going forward—as space would permit—to be at our Motherhouse. That is where our adoration chapel is located, which is key to our charism of perpetual adoration.”​<br></p><h3>Res​ponding to Changes in Health Care and Life Safety</h3><p>In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in care models, including a significant move to assisted living communities. Considering this swing, the solutions are not the same as they have historically been. Innovative design solutions are necessary to best meet the various care community being served. At times, regulations have not kept up with those needs, nor the research, best practices, new products, and special exceptions that will best serve the community.&#160;<br></p><p>Architectural and construction consultants must explore new ways to meet the intent of the code, even when those solutions are not explicitly permitted in the code. Existing codes can sometimes be years behind the continuum of care needs and solutions, so a Petition for Variance is requested in those situations.<br></p><p><img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/2023/177Hoff17.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;365px;height&#58;251px;" />An example is the grab bar variance. Experience and research data is showing that swing-down grab bars can be more effective for residents and staff in assisted care environments. Unlike current code standards, swing-down grab bars are non-handed (correct for left or right-handed people), provide flexibility for residents with unbalanced upper body strength due to injuries or stroke, and permit additional flexibility for assistance.&#160;</p><p>Petitions are sometimes the best way to provide effective design solutions, especially when repurposing existing buildings. Although a useful tool, petitions should not be taken lightly and always pursued in collaboration with all involved parties (owner, operator, care staff, plan reviewers, inspectors, state officials, etc.) to ensure the intended outcome is achieved.&#160;​<br></p><h3>Elevating the Staff Experience&#160;</h3><p>Staff efficiency is at the top of the priority list for our senior living clients. Considering the staffing challenges that most organizations are facing, helping staff be more productive is a critical desired outcome.&#160;<br></p><p>Survey findings demonstrate that staff are one of the most important factors in environmental and care quality. Getting the most out of your staff is accomplished by improving their experience and creating a facility that allows them to work like they want to—smoother and easier.<br></p><p>This is accomplished by involving care givers, culinary staff, and other key stakeholders in early discussions to uncover the intricate details that will ultimately lead them to be fully successful in supporting patient care and independence.​<br></p><h3>We​llness Models for Active Older Adults</h3><p>Never has wellness been as critical in senior living as it is today. Wellness encompasses many themes from physical fitness to social engagement. As providers navigate the wellness landscape in 2023, they are well served to take note of several trends and consider them as they are planning and making improvements to current wellness programs and paradigms.&#160;<br></p><p>We recommend the expansion of wellness programs to create deeper connections, higher levels of engagement, and more fulfilling experiences for residents and associates alike.&#160;<br></p><p>We have found that the expansion of wellness programs across the industry has enabled operators to offer more program customization without overwhelming their operations. One strategy for accomplishing this is to frontload the resident onboarding process with thorough evaluations that focus on lifestyle, preference, and resident history. It empowers operators and associates to create a more personalized experience for each resident. It also drives whole-person wellness by helping residents maintain physical activity, sense of purpose, and a feeling of connection.&#160;<br></p><p>We believe that every operator’s goal should be to create a greater sense of community. True communities are integrated and alive, providing residents with a greater sense of purpose, connection, and togetherness, and built around social engagement models. When the sense of community is the result of empowering residents, they become free to choose how they want to participate and contribute, instead of assuming the associates will do everything for them.&#160;​<br></p><h3>Use of Technology to Maintain Independence and Support Care Operations</h3><p>We have had many conversations with clients about the increased and proper use of technology to make their work easier. You are likely very familiar with such applications as smart vital monitoring, fall detection, and social connectivity tools. These are still very proprietary, and interconnectivity with higher level systems like nurse call and security systems is sometimes limited.<br></p><p>The next shift and latest technology are happening more on the vendor level, versus the industry or system level. With that in mind, operators and administrators wishing to be on the forefront of technology advancement should engage with vendors that are on the cutting edge of specific systems. Then, they should seek to participate in beta tests to be a part of creating the end solutions that will serve residents and staff most effectively.<br></p><p>A crucial decision that we strongly encourage every client to make in a building project is to create a robust wired and wireless infrastructure. This will allow easier “plug and play” for the latest technological advancements, for emerging technologies, and most importantly, for future technologies yet to be developed.&#160;​<br></p><h3>Now and Then</h3><p>Making decisions that allow for flexibility of care, staff efficiency, and wise use of technology will set you up for success. Your staff and residents will be the benefactors and the efficiency and productivity of your facilities will greatly benefit as well.&#160;<br></p><img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/2023/JulieHeiberger.jpg" alt="Julie Heiberger" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;115px;height&#58;145px;" /><p><em>Julie Heiberger is a senior project architect and the Senior Living Market Leader for Hoffman Planning, Design &amp; Construction, Inc. A member of the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Review Boards, she received her Master of Architecture from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.&#160;​</em></p><p><em><img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/2023/RandyBremhorst.jpg" alt="Randy Bremhorst" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;115px;height&#58;144px;" />Randy Bremhorst is Vice President of Design at Hoffman Planning, Design &amp; Construction, Inc. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, he has more than 30 years of experience in the design and construction profession.&#160;</em></p>2023-02-14T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Articles/PublishingImages/2023/design.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />DesignJulie Heiberger and Randy BremhorstModern care communities are being created to blend care efficiency with more nuanced treatment levels.
Best Practices for Designing Memory Care Facilities<p>​Through strategic and intentional design, as well as purposeful execution, memory care facilities can reduce resident confusion, frustration, and anxiety while encouraging engagement and independence in a safe environment.</p><p>The <a href="https&#58;//montessori-ami.org/about-montessori/montessori-dementia-ageing#&#58;~&#58;text=The%20goal%20of%20the%20Montessori%2c%2c%20others%2c%20and%20their%20community." target="_blank">Association Montessori Internationale</a> created the first Montessori Advisory Group for Dementia and Ageing in 2014, fostering a program whose goal is “to support older adults and people living with dementia by creating a prepared environment filled with cues and memory supports that enable individuals to care for themselves, others, and their community.”</p><p><img src="/Articles/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2022/ScottHendrix.jpg" alt="Scott Hendrix" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;200px;" />To execute this person-centered philosophy, design teams must understand how people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia interact with their environments, as well as the wide range of a resident’s abilities and limitations.</p><p>While every facility is not equipped to fully adapt to the Montessori method, it is possible to make cost-effective upgrades that enhance a resident’s life by applying best practices.</p><h3>Case Study&#58; Evergreen House</h3><p>The Village at Summerville is one of six senior living communities operated by Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina. Evergreen House, a purpose-built memory care facility on that campus, is an example of how incorporating Montessori principles into the built environment can improve resident life.</p><p>If a facility is considering adopting Montessori methods, decision-makers are encouraged to visit an existing Montessori facility such as Evergreen House, one of the first intentionally designed buildings of its kind in the United States. Clients may witness firsthand how intentional design influences the environment and its inhabitants. From there, they can begin to think about how to incorporate the different Montessori principles into their vision for a new or revitalized facility.</p><h3>Wayfinding</h3><p>Wayfinding should be a primary design consideration in senior living facilities to reduce spatial disorientation. This is accomplished by designing surroundings that are instinctive to navigate and rich with sensory cues. For those with memory impairments, multiple layers of wayfinding methods may be implemented to compensate for cognitive decline that leads to increased spatial disorientation.</p><h3>Color</h3><p>Color can serve as a useful tool for making navigation easier. A resident with memory impairment may not be able to tell you their room number, but they may remember that they live in an orange hall. Memory care facilities can select flooring, paint, finishes, art, and signage that coordinates a defined color identity to improve wayfinding.</p><p>Each resident pod at Evergreen House leverages the interior environment to create visual cues that better orient residents as they navigate the facility. In resident rooms, bathrooms are color-coordinated to further establish color association, with the wall behind each toilet coordinating with the pod’s designated color. </p><h3>Contrast</h3><p>The color behind the toilet enhances a sense of place and provides a distinct contrast between the toilet and the wall. The use of contrasting colors for hardware such as cabinet pulls, grab bars, doorknobs, and plumbing fixtures further aids in creating spaces that promote self-reliance.</p><p>Contrast also provides cues for areas residents should and should not access. At Evergreen House, doors leading to staff areas are painted the same color as the wall and feature matching hardware to blend into the surroundings. Meanwhile, resident rooms and community spaces use black hardware and a solid, contrasting color door or wall to make them stand out to residents. </p><h3>Signage</h3><p>Signage is the next layer to incorporate into your facility’s wayfinding system. It can work in tandem with color to establish visual cues and landmarks that serve as “memory joggers” for residents. Signage can include resident room signs, back-of-house signs, and invitational cues. </p><p>At Evergreen House, bedrooms have signs located adjacent to each resident’s door. Signs include a room number and interchangeable openings where staff members insert the resident’s name and a large format photo of them from the life period they most identify with at a given time. Signage is designed to coordinate with each pod’s color palette and contrast with the wall for easy visibility.</p><p>Back-of-house, staff, and general building signage that indicate spaces not intended for resident access—such as the kitchen or utility rooms—are less colorful and more utilitarian. The intent is not to hide these areas, but rather to make them less inviting for residents.</p><p>Printed tabletop signs maintained by Evergreen House staff serve as invitation cues. These are brightly colored, high contrast, and meant to grab the attention of residents. Tabletop signs placed directly next to an activity may ask a question like, “Would you like to do a puzzle?” These signs require minimal upfront cost and planning, making them easy to adopt in existing facilities. </p><h3>Art</h3><p>Distinctive artwork should be placed throughout the building with clear, single-subject images. Owners and designers should undergo a thoughtful selection process to determine which subjects are most relatable to the residents living in their specific facilities. </p><p>Artwork and display surfaces should have a matte finish. Glare creates vision difficulties for elderly residents and may keep them from recognizing the subject of the artwork, thus minimizing its effectiveness as a wayfinding tool. </p><h3>Floor Plan</h3><p>Floor plans that encourage movement, are easy to navigate, have built-in spaces for engagement, and are designed to be adaptable to changing resident needs help residents lead fulfilling lives and provide a sense of normalcy.</p><h3>Scale</h3><p>Evergreen House is laid out in a similar manner to how a typical residence would be designed. Public spaces, such as the living room and kitchen, are centrally located with short hallways connecting to private spaces, including resident rooms and guest toilets. Support spaces are located in areas between public and private zones, allowing caregivers visual access to monitor residents and exits at all times.</p><p>Long corridors and dead ends can cause frustration for residents. The “pod” style arrangement of rooms at Evergreen House minimizes hallway length while allowing the creation of distinctive color identities for each grouping of rooms to help residents independently navigate from public to private space. In renovations, a cost-effective way to break up long corridors is to create visual stopping points using finishes, such as accent carpeting, wallcoverings, and paints.</p><h3>Resident Engagement Areas</h3><p>Facilities should have spaces intentionally designed to engage residents and encourage them to participate in stimulating activities. </p><p>Dedicated or fixed “lifestyle stations” are programmed into the built environment and provide a place for daily life activities. These may include washing machines for laundry, built-in bookcases for reading, or a piano for music therapy. Flexible stations give staff the ability to adjust areas to offer engaging activities tailored to their facility’s particular population. They may be as simple as a coin-sorting station on a table or a flower-arrangement station with artificial flowers and various vases.</p><p>Thoughtful placement of resident engagement areas creates opportunities for both personal entertainment and social interaction. Adding them along a resident’s daily path or incorporating them into common areas encourages people to interact with the space and join in on activities.</p><h3>Kitchen</h3><p>Ensuring a centralized and open location for the kitchen helps engage all of a resident’s senses. Residents can see, hear, and smell meals being prepared and can physically interact with the space to grab their own food and drink. Adding a beverage station is another great way to help residents maintain dignity and self-reliance since they can select and prepare their own beverages.</p><h3>Bedroom</h3><p>Depending on the level of care, facilities may allow residents to bring their own furniture to help them feel at home. However, there are certain elements that must not be disturbed, such as direct line of sight to the toilet. Residents at Evergreen House have two options for arranging their furniture, guided by the strategic location of power outlets, the nurse call system, and cable and telephone connections. Regardless of which arrangement individuals select, they will always be able to clearly see the door to their bathroom. </p><h3>Outdoor Space </h3><p>Providing space for residents to go outside and enjoy nature is an important component of their mental and emotional well-being. The outdoor space at Evergreen House includes multiple zones for socializing, mindful contemplation, and gardening.</p><p>Landscaping can be used strategically to establish boundaries while permitting movement and easing frustration. It can be used to disguise fences and gates, as well as inaccessible spaces outside the home. </p><h3>Design That Puts People First</h3><p>Applying Montessori for Dementia and Ageing principles into a memory care facility’s built environment can be a substantial undertaking, especially for facilities looking to do a full conversion. However, facilities don’t need to change everything to make a positive impact on their residents.</p><p>Embracing even one of these best practices may begin promoting a better sense of independence and enhancing quality of life for residents suffering from memory impairment as they interact with an environment designed with their needs in mind.<em><br></em></p><p><em>Scott Hendrix, AIA, LEED AP, is an Architect at McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, a regional, studio-based design firm with offices in Spartanburg, Charleston and Greenville, South Carolina; Asheville and Charlotte, North Carolina; and Atlanta, Georgia. He can be reached at <a href="mailto&#58;shendrix@mcmillanpazdansmith.com" target="_blank">shendrix@mcmillanpazdansmith.com</a>. </em></p>2022-10-11T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Articles/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2022/ScottHendrix.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Management;DesignScott HendrixMemory care facilities can reduce resident confusion, frustration, and anxiety while encouraging engagement and independence in a safe environment.
Designing Spaces for Memory Care<p>COVID-19 has affected people and health care systems in multiple ways. Previous flu seasons and outbreaks have demonstrated the challenges of infection control and prevention for vulnerable populations living within the parameters of a closed community.<br></p><p>Meg Sutton, director of interior design at Direct Supply, says that while isolation was also felt during previous flu seasons, it has been a larger issue during COVID, which has led to more client focus on safely visiting family.<br>In her role within the design and construction arm of the company, Sutton works on technical and creative development, professional development of her team, business development and quality control, and memory care interior design.<br></p><p>“What we have seen come out of COVID in terms of design has to do with this idea of dividing\conquering, or creating smaller environments from larger environments,” says Sutton. <br></p><p>Generally speaking, memory care design has always been about limiting exit points and limiting the risk of elopement. “Here that’s still a concern, and it’s still something we incorporate into the designs we do, but now it’s also about how do you get people safely in and out of the building,” says Sutton. </p><h2>Changing Dynamics</h2><p>A priority nowadays for Direct Supply design clients has been how to enter spaces without traveling through other parts of the building, which is something that was not seen before. “Our challenge was how do you create an environment that allows you to see your family regardless of what’s going on in the outside world rather than having this locked-down mode,” says Sutton. <br></p><p>For memory care specifically, having separate entrances available for not only staff but also for families and visitors when allowed to enter into those sections of the building has been critical. “It’s been really important, and one of the ideas that we’ve come up with and that we’ve seen implemented in some areas is this idea of a transition space for memory care,” says Sutton. “This space should be adjacent to the exterior of the building, so again you’re not traveling through other areas of the building to get there.”<br></p><p>Think of a space where a resident, family member, an art teacher, or a visiting physician can enter the memory care space from the outside. “Your exterior space in general and outside space is your first line of defense,” says Sutton.&#160; “How you enter this transition space has become really critical to maintaining relationships outside the building.”<br></p><p>In an assisted living community, one may see a discovery room, a closing room, or even a hospitality suite. “Any of these could potentially be converted or otherwise adapted to that transition space,” says Sutton. “It doesn’t have to be large, and it needs to be occupied by only a few people, but it needs to be accessible from inside and outside.”<br></p><p>Another example is a community that has a transition lobby between the assisted living portion and the memory care portion. “Again, that was originally focused on elopement, but that type of space can also be converted into a receiving lobby where people are coming in directly from the outside, depending on where those places are located,” says Sutton.</p><h2>The Great Outdoors</h2><p>When thinking of spaces where there is a low risk of spreading illness, an outdoor space like a courtyard comes to mind, but there are caveats. While outdoor dining has been a trend for some time, often, seniors don’t use outdoor space because it’s uncomfortable—either too hot, cold, or windy for a fragile population. <br></p><p>“You can’t just take an outdoor patio and throw some chairs on it and call it a rest in space and expect residents to take advantage of it,” says Sutton. “You really need to make sure that it is well-shaded and well-protected from the elements as the best way to encourage people to use it, especially when you are dealing with a fragile population in assisted living or memory care,” she says. Then comes programming—activities that draw people to the space and help everyone understand how it’s being used. </p><h2>Staying Ahead</h2><p>In a challenging year of COVID, collaboration and coordination have taken a different tone for Sutton and her team, which is spread all over the country. The team meets weekly to talk about what’s going on, what the trends are, and how to stay creative. One of the ways is offering a review to help clients stay safe and ahead of the curve.<br></p><p>“We offer our clients a COVID review,” says Sutton. “We take a look at their floor plan—either an existing one that needs refreshing or floor plan upcoming. We talk about how we can divide and conquer the population given their issues with COVID.” Indoor air quality is a large component to the health and wellness of a building, and it is frequently discussed among clients. </p><h2>Future Focus</h2><p>Expect to see a big uptick in renovation and repositioning in the future, such as adding additional beds or adding memory care into assisted living or independent living, says Sutton. This pertains most to providers that were doing well before the pandemic and are continuing to do well, picking up failing communities or aging assets and adding them to their portfolios.<br></p><p>Changes in ownership play into that shift and will lead to marketing communities in a different way, such as marketing separate entrances for staff and visitors. <br></p>2021-05-01T04:00:00ZDesignAmy Mendoza​Memory care design has always been about limiting exit points and limiting the risk of elopement.
Tunable Lighting Makes Big Impact on Residents<div>​</div> <div>In a case of science moving from the lab to the real world, skilled nursing and assisted living operators are discovering the ways in which new lighting technology has resulted in improvements to quality of life for their residents well beyond their expectations. </div> <div><br></div> <div><img src="/Issues/2017/December/PublishingImages/corridorDay.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="Corridor with natural daylight" style="margin&#58;5px 15px;" />Called tunable-white LED lighting, the new systems are meant to replace incumbent fluorescent systems. Tunable-white lighting is being promoted as a benefit to providers because it can improve the lighting quality of a facility through increasing light intensity levels, reducing glare, and providing better control when compared with existing systems.</div> <div><br></div> <div>The goal is to allow residents to maintain healthier sleep patterns, improve nighttime safety, and positively affect other behaviors like limiting outbursts with soothing lighting.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Potential is Great</h2> <div>Still in their infancy stage, tunable lights may help to correct circadian rhythm disruption, which is to say how a person’s internal body clock works to regulate the 24-hour-a-day cycle of sleep, being awake, and other daily activities. By correcting these disruptions, an individual can experience more restful sleep, a decreased chance of becoming depressed, and lower levels of aggression (notably for dementia care).</div> <div><br></div> <div>Because of this, lighting is an exciting new area for nursing centers to explore as they implement nonpharmacological approaches to improving dementia care, for example, and deploy energy-saving changes to make their complete infrastructure more efficient.</div> <div><br></div> <div>At night, the body produces large amounts of melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. When that process is disrupted by so-called blue light (light that does not allow complete sleep, like from a computer screen or other bright source), the body slows production of melatonin, allowing the body to wake up.</div> <div><br></div> <div>“So, in the natural world it is dark at night and so your body pumps out melatonin. Then the sun comes up, you get exposed to daylight, and there is lots of that sort of blue rich light in daylight and that suppresses melatonin,” says Robert Davis, PhD, senior staff lighting engineer, technical director, Solid-State Lighting Program, Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Portland, Ore. </div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Putting the Principles to Work</h2> <div>But does tunable lighting help prevent these sleeping and waking issues for residents of skilled nursing centers? One provider, ACC Care Center in Sacramento, Calif., has definitely jumped on the pro-tunable lighting bandwagon, according to Administrator Melanie Segar.</div> <div><br></div> <div><img src="/Issues/2017/December/PublishingImages/MelanieSager.jpg" alt="Melanie Segar" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px 15px;" />“The research has really shown that just like we all take for granted daylight and our sleep patterns, residents don’t typically get the same kind of cues from daylight that we all get as we go about our business,” she says. “It really is different. They don’t have exposure to the light, and it kind of messes with your system. And, we see some of the outcomes from that like not sleeping well at night.”</div> <div><br></div> <div>As ACC became interested in the lighting issue, it partnered with its local utility, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), to conduct a human-centric lighting project. Though there have been some delays in getting the exact technology into place as contractors are still catching up to the advances in lighting, the overall results have been stunning, Segar says.</div> <div><br></div> <div>“We did one private room and one semi-private room, so a very small number, [they also did bathrooms and an office] but we did change the lights in the hall to tunable lights, and we’ve seen a consistent difference on that hallway in terms of falls and a major reduction in behaviors,” she says.</div> <div><br></div> <div>In fact, ACC recorded a 41 percent reduction in agitated behavior in the monitoring period. “And, that seems amazing to me. But we’ve continued to see that there are fewer problems down there [where tunable lights are in place]. So, the phase two project is to put tunable lighting in all of the halls,” Segar says.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Lighting Can be a Balancing Act</h2> <div>As her center sees the benefits of softening the lighting for sleep and brightening during the day, Segar can understand where cost may be a barrier. Grants from SMUD for the project have eased ACC’s financial burden, and the cost is coming down as costs do with the use of new technology over time.</div> <div><br></div> <div>There is also the matter of balancing the lighting needs of the resident with the work being done by staff, which is a unique issue for 24/7-hour facilities like nursing care centers. Instead of having the tunable lights come on and off automatically, the areas where nursing needs are greatest allow for manual control of how bright or dim the lights are, Segar says.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">How the Science Works</h2> <div>At the same time providers are working to bring technology to their centers and make advances in quality of care, researchers continue to develop ways to make tunable lighting a reality for more institutions, like in long term care.</div> <div><br></div> <div><span><img src="/Issues/2017/December/PublishingImages/corridorMorning.jpg" alt="Corridor in morning light" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;10px 15px;" /></span><span></span></div> <div><img src="/Issues/2017/December/PublishingImages/corridorNight.jpg" alt="Corridor at night" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;10px;" />“The main reason people are looking at this is due to some new knowledge we have gained over the last 15 years or so about how <span><span></span></span>the spectrum of light can affect some of the human sleep-wake cycle, and the hormones involved in that,” Davis says. Changes in light can trigger the body to react in different ways, like for example how light in the morning prompts people to wake up, or dimmer light at night reduces stimulation as the body starts the process of moving to its sleep cycle.</div> <div><br></div> <div>“It is all that same underlying theory that has come forth based on the discovery of a new photo receptor in the human retina 15 years ago,” he says. “The upshot of it is that the medical community has documented that the wavelengths of light seem to affect things like melatonin.”</div> <div><br></div> <div>Therein lies the problem in any care center that is open all the time when some people are trying&#160;to sleep and others are trying to work. </div> <div><br></div> <div>“There are sort of all those situations and especially in senior care where there is often dementia and other things going on,” Davis says. “If you suppress melatonin in the evening hours or even at night, then you are probably making it harder for people to sleep. And, so exposing people to fairly bright levels of light in the late afternoon or evening is probably going to affect their ability to have a good night’s sleep.”</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">An Environment of Relaxation</h2> <div>For Davis, the lighting arena is part and parcel of an overall interest in architectural engineering, which at the highest level concerns the view taken from emerging evidence on how the physical environment can increase or decrease stress.</div> <div><br></div> <div>“We are understanding how institutional environments built around the world in the 1970s and 1980s…how the environment itself if it is ugly and has stressful harsh lighting and noise, results in lots of stress on the immune system,” he says.</div> <div><br></div> <div>This stress makes it harder for people to heal and get well, and in long term care it hinders a more relaxing, homey lifestyle that is good for all. “If a provider can make the environment more comfortable and pleasant, that can help,” Davis says. And, tunable light can help and make people feel more relaxed.</div> <div><br></div> <div>“Beyond the color and intensity is the question of how to do we get more light on walls or accent lighting on art work…anything that is more relaxing can make connections to overall well-being.”</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Lighting Goes a Long Way</h2> <div>For provider Segar, the ability to make lighting a more natural occurrence for her residents has really moved this technology from a “what if” situation to a “why not” one.</div> <div><br></div> <div>“I mean, we have one resident who has issues of continuously falling, but with this new lighting he has done remarkably well since being in a room with tunable lighting,” she says. “Before we started we knew nothing about it; now I believe it really impacts the quality of life of residents. A good night’s sleep has a direct impact on behavior. This has the potential to be huge.” </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div>Reach Patrick at <a href="mailto&#58;pconnole@providermagazine.com" target="_blank">pconnole@providermagazine.com</a>.</div> <div>&#160;</div>2017-12-01T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Issues/2017/December/PublishingImages/corridor_t.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Management;DesignPatrick ConnoleTunable-white lighting is being promoted as a benefit to providers because it can improve the lighting quality of a facility through increasing light intensity levels, reducing glare, and providing better control when compared with existing systems.