Retirement living has to factor pandemics into design now. Separation rather than isolation is the key. Much of the value of specialist retirement living is the easy access to amenities and socialisation. But the pandemic put a stop to both. The constant reminder that older people are more vulnerable to the infection was the last straw. Especially as everyone fell into the vulnerable category. Consequently, everyone got isolated from each other. But how to design for this?
Australian Ageing Agenda has an article discussing these issues. If residents have to stay home for prolonged periods, they will likely demand more space. Pocket neighbourhoods could work so that only a section needs to be cordoned off. Other ideas are:
- Converting utility rooms in residential aged care to provide sleeping cubicles for staff to stay overnight
- Architects and designers working with materials that are either antimicrobial or easily cleaned
- Better air filtration and purification, possibly driven by future changes in air-quality codes
- More high-tech senior-living communities with virtual socialisation, technology support and clear communication systems in place so residents can ask questions and feel more comfortable
- Technology that allows residents to navigate communities without pressing buttons or grabbing handles
- Facilitation of in-person visits during times of outbreaks via a dedicated clean room
The title of the article is, COVID-19 is shaping design of future facilities.