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8 budget-friendly tips for renovating your LTC facility

February 10, 2012
by Julie Heiberger, AIA, NCARB, LEED BD&C
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Design strategies pay off for residents and staff
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When it comes to renovation, it’s important to carefully plan for both the look and feel and the building’s performance, while sticking within an approved budget. By having a laser-like focus on areas that are sure to make a difference, you can make some drastic improvements without breaking the bank. Here are some suggestions based on the experiences my firm, Hoffman LLC, has encountered on renovation and restoration building projects.

1. Create community in multiuse spaces.

One benefit that is worth seeking with any renovation is opening up the facility. By removing walls and developing an open environment, you provide better lines of sight and increase the amount of daylight in corridors. This immediately offers a healthier environment for residents. By incorporating half-walls and enlarged openings, residents are provided with spaces that are more inviting, therefore encouraging interaction and creating a greater sense of community. Another benefit is added circulation within the spaces, providing for flexibility in furniture layouts while making access easier.

At St. Elizabeth Convent, Tampa, Fla., walls were removed to provide an open feel and create larger community spaces. Photo courtesy of Hoffman LLC.

Another way to encourage community living is to create destinations such as a bistro or café. Consider relocating administrative-related offices and storage rooms to more back-of-house locations. Then you can remodel to increase other community gathering spaces, such as a library or parlor. This not only provides more opportunity for residents, but also aids in your marketing efforts.

2. Simple finishes freshen spaces and moods.

When it comes to updating finishes, think about how the colors will affect the mood and feel of the area. We have all seen color palettes that have come and gone, while at the same time witnessed what a simple coat of paint can do. Using color can aid in wayfinding for residents with dementia. The right colors can provide a calming environment or stimulate residents, while accent walls designate a destination space. A fresh paint job is probably the most cost-effective way to freshen up a facility and brighten resident moods.

And, since you are improving your facilities’ environment, protect your new investment. Installing corner and wall guards reduces damage and minimizes ongoing maintenance. Durable wall coverings can help with damage to drywall from carts and wheelchairs. Contemplate refinishing existing wood doors and millwork. When freshening up paint colors, think about using the handrail/chair rail to provide different shades of color from bottom to top in order to break up corridors and make them more visually interesting.

Always be sure to use low- or zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and adhesives for all finishes. You’ll not only be creating a brighter look, but a healthier environment for your residents and staff. Sustainable “green” products are becoming a standard in the industry because they just make good sense.

3. Find the right flooring.

Flooring options have increased dramatically. In recent years, carpet containing recycled content in both the fibers and the backing is common in today’s market place and is also affordable. Many manufactures offer varying styles and color palettes, providing endless options. Be mindful of where carpeting is to be placed as vinyl-backed carpets, although more costly, are a necessity in areas prone to incontinence accidents and food spills. In addition to style and practicality, carpet and carpet borders can also facilitate wayfinding by creating pathways throughout the property. 

Leasing carpet is a unique idea in floor covering whereby carpet suppliers, for a monthly fee, maintain the carpet for the life of the lease. This option results in a reduced initial cost and the carpet is often recycled at the end of its lease period. Another way to reduce financial risk is to install carpet tiles. Environmentally friendly carpet tiles come in an array of sizes and can easily be replaced when damaged or when stains destroy an area.

But, carpet isn’t the only option. Providing a high-quality wood appearance can be accomplished with a cost-effective sheet vinyl, or even vinyl planks. Be certain to use darker grout colors when updating tile floors and walls in bathing and toilet rooms to reduce future maintenance expenses. Lighter colors tend to get dirty over time, resulting in the need for extensive cleaning and/or sealing. Identifying your intended use of the spaces and your maintenance program will determine the appropriate flooring to use throughout the facility.

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