Contract - Trends: From Illness Care to Wellness Care

design - essay



Trends: From Illness Care to Wellness Care

15 November, 2010

-By By Joyce Polhamus, AIA, and Sonia Johansen, SmithGroup


Today’s seniors are independent, involved, and connected to the world. They have home gyms or health club memberships, visit salons, and embrace spa therapies. To attract these individuals and remain competitive, it is imperative that senior facilities adopt wellness more comprehensively.

It is no longer sufficient for senior communities to provide a downsized home with increased levels of care, especially as new technologies are being developed that are designed to help people live longer and healthier lives. Senior living communities must capitalize on the quality of life issues involved in offering full wellness programming and facilities that enable seniors to remain vital and healthy in a number of ways.

As attitudes towards aging, health, and wellness evolve, wellness centers should be at the core of any senior living community.

New paradigm
The experience of 21st-century hospitals indicates a paradigm shift is underway from illness care to wellness care. Patients are transitioning from passive healthcare recipients to active healthcare consumers, and prevention is less costly than treatment. Complementary medicine, the idea that an individual is in large part responsible for his or her own health and healing, is ascendant over traditional medicine. People have a greater sense of individual autonomy and an increased interest in wellness, self-education, and self-care.

In this environment, identification with a wellness product may be necessary to a healthcare system’s survival. Increasingly, hospitals are affiliating with fitness or recreation centers, rehabilitation centers, and even hotels that offer spa amenities.
This same concept can be incorporated into the senior living model of care. Wellness centers can be a powerful marketing tool to attract active seniors, especially those for whom the type of social interaction a wellness center provides is not readily available in their current living situation. Providers have an opportunity to embrace the new wellness paradigm to lead senior living communities successfully into the next century.

Essential characteristics
Individuality appears to be the central characteristic of the wellness center product. The wellness center means different things to different people. Accordingly, a diversity of offerings can give individuals a sense of control and choice within the environment.

While the individual wellness experience is primary, a recent survey by the Center for Health Design revealed people generally want an environment that provides a connection to others, is conducive to a sense of well-being, is convenient and accessible, demonstrates caring, is considerate of health impairments, clear in its expectations, and close to nature. With this in mind, wellness center design should incorporate privacy, social interaction, visual access to the outdoors, good visual cues and signage, predictability, flexibility to evolve over time, controlled sound levels, appropriate lighting, convenient parking, and easy access. Programming considerations should expand to consider the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of wellness.

In building for wellness, we have an architectural and sociological responsibility to recognize both the forms of wellness—such as recreation, therapy, fitness, socialization, and dietary nourishment—and its dimensions, as in its physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and vocational scope. These realms continue and expand personal experience and give people a sense of purpose at any age.

A holistic approach to wellness seeks to combine the best of traditional and alternative medicines, and a wellness center expresses this idea in physical form. Its designated spaces may include clinics for a variety of health professionals, from doctors and dentists to counselors and acupuncturists; pools for aquatic therapy, recreation, and exercise; spa services; cafés; gardens; walking paths; fitness rooms with exercise equipment; multipurpose rooms for educational or movement classes like yoga and aerobics; a gymnasium; and retail spaces that provide diversions and opportunities to socialize.

Design considerations
There are a variety of approaches to incorporating wellness center elements into a senior living community. Components may be arranged in a centralized or satellite fashion, embedded into a community or set somewhat apart. Wellness centers that are set apart can more easily invite the neighboring community to participate. Members of a senior community may enjoy interacting with younger people and outside residents; they may also consider this an unwelcome intrusion. As with any project, the community’s needs determine the design.

At The Tamalpais in Greenbrae, Calif., a large common area was refurbished to include several more intimate wellness spaces, such as a bistro, library, and art room. These are organized so the most social spaces, like the main lounge, are closest to the entrance. Rooms like the library and fitness center, which are designated for more personal activities, are located further into the facility. This design allows for controlled access.

Another model is in place at the Samsung Noble County continuing care retirement community in Korea. Noble County is an integrated complex of housing, medical, cultural, and sports and leisure facilities, where the sports and cultural centers are open to local residents. On-site child care fosters even more multigenerational interaction.

Within a wellness center, critical adjacencies can help encourage users along the wellness continuum by emphasizing the connection between, for example, rehabilitation and fitness. This is demonstrated in the design of the Saban Center for Health and Wellness, Woodland Hills, Calif. A glass wall between the pool and fitness gym provides a view into the gym to motivate those undergoing aquatic therapy to progress to land therapy. This design is supported by an innovative arrangement at the center whereby staffers work in both a rehabilitative and fitness capacity, rather than one or the other, as is customary.

Catalyst for change
This is a time of repositioning in senior living communities. As these communities determine the model of mission and service that is right for them, wellness may become a catalyst for organizational change. It may also act as a magnet for participation at facilities struggling in the current economy. Wellness may, in fact, be the cure for a host of ills.




Trends: From Illness Care to Wellness Care

15 November, 2010


Today’s seniors are independent, involved, and connected to the world. They have home gyms or health club memberships, visit salons, and embrace spa therapies. To attract these individuals and remain competitive, it is imperative that senior facilities adopt wellness more comprehensively.

It is no longer sufficient for senior communities to provide a downsized home with increased levels of care, especially as new technologies are being developed that are designed to help people live longer and healthier lives. Senior living communities must capitalize on the quality of life issues involved in offering full wellness programming and facilities that enable seniors to remain vital and healthy in a number of ways.

As attitudes towards aging, health, and wellness evolve, wellness centers should be at the core of any senior living community.

New paradigm
The experience of 21st-century hospitals indicates a paradigm shift is underway from illness care to wellness care. Patients are transitioning from passive healthcare recipients to active healthcare consumers, and prevention is less costly than treatment. Complementary medicine, the idea that an individual is in large part responsible for his or her own health and healing, is ascendant over traditional medicine. People have a greater sense of individual autonomy and an increased interest in wellness, self-education, and self-care.

In this environment, identification with a wellness product may be necessary to a healthcare system’s survival. Increasingly, hospitals are affiliating with fitness or recreation centers, rehabilitation centers, and even hotels that offer spa amenities.
This same concept can be incorporated into the senior living model of care. Wellness centers can be a powerful marketing tool to attract active seniors, especially those for whom the type of social interaction a wellness center provides is not readily available in their current living situation. Providers have an opportunity to embrace the new wellness paradigm to lead senior living communities successfully into the next century.

Essential characteristics
Individuality appears to be the central characteristic of the wellness center product. The wellness center means different things to different people. Accordingly, a diversity of offerings can give individuals a sense of control and choice within the environment.

While the individual wellness experience is primary, a recent survey by the Center for Health Design revealed people generally want an environment that provides a connection to others, is conducive to a sense of well-being, is convenient and accessible, demonstrates caring, is considerate of health impairments, clear in its expectations, and close to nature. With this in mind, wellness center design should incorporate privacy, social interaction, visual access to the outdoors, good visual cues and signage, predictability, flexibility to evolve over time, controlled sound levels, appropriate lighting, convenient parking, and easy access. Programming considerations should expand to consider the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of wellness.

In building for wellness, we have an architectural and sociological responsibility to recognize both the forms of wellness—such as recreation, therapy, fitness, socialization, and dietary nourishment—and its dimensions, as in its physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and vocational scope. These realms continue and expand personal experience and give people a sense of purpose at any age.

A holistic approach to wellness seeks to combine the best of traditional and alternative medicines, and a wellness center expresses this idea in physical form. Its designated spaces may include clinics for a variety of health professionals, from doctors and dentists to counselors and acupuncturists; pools for aquatic therapy, recreation, and exercise; spa services; cafés; gardens; walking paths; fitness rooms with exercise equipment; multipurpose rooms for educational or movement classes like yoga and aerobics; a gymnasium; and retail spaces that provide diversions and opportunities to socialize.

Design considerations
There are a variety of approaches to incorporating wellness center elements into a senior living community. Components may be arranged in a centralized or satellite fashion, embedded into a community or set somewhat apart. Wellness centers that are set apart can more easily invite the neighboring community to participate. Members of a senior community may enjoy interacting with younger people and outside residents; they may also consider this an unwelcome intrusion. As with any project, the community’s needs determine the design.

At The Tamalpais in Greenbrae, Calif., a large common area was refurbished to include several more intimate wellness spaces, such as a bistro, library, and art room. These are organized so the most social spaces, like the main lounge, are closest to the entrance. Rooms like the library and fitness center, which are designated for more personal activities, are located further into the facility. This design allows for controlled access.

Another model is in place at the Samsung Noble County continuing care retirement community in Korea. Noble County is an integrated complex of housing, medical, cultural, and sports and leisure facilities, where the sports and cultural centers are open to local residents. On-site child care fosters even more multigenerational interaction.

Within a wellness center, critical adjacencies can help encourage users along the wellness continuum by emphasizing the connection between, for example, rehabilitation and fitness. This is demonstrated in the design of the Saban Center for Health and Wellness, Woodland Hills, Calif. A glass wall between the pool and fitness gym provides a view into the gym to motivate those undergoing aquatic therapy to progress to land therapy. This design is supported by an innovative arrangement at the center whereby staffers work in both a rehabilitative and fitness capacity, rather than one or the other, as is customary.

Catalyst for change
This is a time of repositioning in senior living communities. As these communities determine the model of mission and service that is right for them, wellness may become a catalyst for organizational change. It may also act as a magnet for participation at facilities struggling in the current economy. Wellness may, in fact, be the cure for a host of ills.

 


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