Senior Living Case Study: A Vibrant Connection

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senior living edgewood retirement community renovationBy Anne Vazquez
Published in the November 2012 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Making life easier and more enjoyable for residents is the top priority at senior living facilities. Whether providing independent living apartments and cottages, assisted living services, or nursing care these types of communities reflect a focus on safety, comfort, and social interaction. Continuing care environments—those that allow residents to age in place—are increasing as the senior population is poised to grow significantly over the next decade or so.

In North Andover, MA, the Edgewood Retirement Community recently underwent a renovation and expansion that addressed the requests and needs of its approximately 260 residents. Completed in spring 2010, the project encompassed a 22,000 square foot renovation and 26,000 square feet of new construction. Located on 80 acres in a rural setting, the facility also benefitted from numerous improvements to its site and outdoor amenities.

Kevin Tremblay, director of facilities at Edgewood, was part of the team that headed up the project. He worked with the architects, engineers, and other firms hired for the expansion to ensure the construction plan fit with the vision of the community, and he was involved throughout to ensure facility systems would operate as planned. Another significant role for Tremblay was to communicate to residents the status of construction, and this task included keeping them informed of changes to pedestrian flow inside the facility.Meanwhile, the project included upgrades to building systems that the facility management (FM) staff uses to maintain comfortable, healthy conditions for residents of both the independent living and nursing care areas.

“Open communication of resident concerns to staff, and the responsive follow up by the design and construction team, was the pivotal component of this logistically complex project,” says Tremblay. “With the numerous parties involved, our goal was to maximize space in the renovated areas and to create a state-of-the-art facility. I was the liaison between the design team and residents.”

Suggestions Welcome

At project inception, Edgewood was nearly a decade old and, while successful, there were areas that the Board of Directors there had identified as ripe for improvement. This drove an expansion and renovation plan largely focused on addressing suggestions for the existing facility. Staff input was also solicited.

The facility wide improvements included additions and upgrades to common spaces, such as dining areas, as well as new space types. An example of a common space improvement is the new “Bistro 575”, which provides casual dining and takeout options. The 4,500 square foot restaurant was a requested amenity by residents, and it features a dining room, kitchen, and a billiards room (relocated from another area of the facility). The bistro seats 80, includes a small bar, and provides space for events and performances.

Edgewood, Retirement Facilities

(Photo: Margulies Perruzzi Architects)

Bistro 575 is an example of the importance residents’ input played in the Edgewood construction project. This input was part of the information gathering and collaboration Tremblay and the rest of the team employed to arrive at a design that would meet the needs of all who live and work at the facility. To begin planning, a design committee was formed and it was comprised of the executive director, Tremblay, project architects, and two resident members. In addition, staff members from the facility, food service, and clinical departments participated in focus groups and attending design meetings when appropriate.

“Guiding Principles” from the Strategic Planning Initiative of the Board were created to support and enhance Edgewood’s philosophy of Aging in Place by maintaining and improving assets and amenities including: its natural setting and exterior landscape; its quality interior environment and facilities for residents; and its supportive and therapeutic facilities.

John Pearson, project architect for Margulies Perruzzi Architects (MPA) in Boston, MA, the prime architecture firm on the project, says, “From the beginning the design team considered the functional requirements in the context of an overall improved and revitalized community. We considered the flow of residents and staff through the new facility as part of a total experience of the retirement community redefining itself.”Implementation of the goals put forth by the Board included a strengthened connection between interior and exterior environments; improved and expanded functions (including the bistro, expanded living room, expanded Wellness Clinic and Rehabilitation services, Supportive Day Care services expanded in the new space, and improved skilled nursing and a dementia care unit.

Throughout, MPA worked with Levi+Wong Design Associates, an architecture firm in Concord, MA that provided healthcare and senior care consulting as well as landscape architecture services.

During construction the project team maintained its collaborative approach. Tremblay ensured residents’ safety was maintained and that they were informed of the progress, especially as it would impact their environments. This effort included updates using internal cable television as well as prominent displays of drawings and photos to share progress.

“During construction, the priority was to minimize impact and inconvenience for our residents,” says Tremblay. “For instance, we created a temporary entrance to the facility, along with temporary corridors for access from one area to another.”

Areas For Care

Central to the Edgewood community is offering independent living options, backed by resources to provide increasing levels of assistance and nursing care. Edgewood’s existing Meadows Health Center, a 20 bed skilled nursing facility providing short-term rehabilitation and respite care, was renovated and expanded with a wing that connects to The Garden View, a new 40 bed Cognitively Impaired Unit (CIU). In that new space, 10 beds were allocated as swing space to offer flexibility for nursing care as the resident population changes. This secure unit encompasses dining, activities, and living room functions for those residents.

In the new CIU space, 10 beds were allocated as swing space to offer flexibility for nursing care as the resident population changes. This secure unit encompasses dining, activities, and living room functions for those residents.

An important piece of the project was to increase enjoyment and access to the outdoors for all residents. The Garden View area, for instance, was designed around a central court open to the sky. Accessible from that unit is an outdoor “Memory Garden.”

Outdoor improvements also included a terrace for Bistro 575 and additional courtyards and walking paths. Says Pearson, “Opportunities for enjoying the outdoors were somewhat limited before this project, which was ironic for a community that sits on such a beautiful and well cared for natural environment.”

Spaces For Staff

Once the improvements at Edgewood were complete, Tremblay’s FM staff would be responsible for maintaining the upgraded environment. The inclusion of facilities staff members on the design committee ensured improvements made in that realm would meet their potential going forward.

To that end, various components of building systems were included in the scope of the project. Tremblay shares, “As part of this project, we were able to upgrade all of our mechanical systems, including water source heat pumps and the ventilation system. We also installed a new cooling tower for the facility.”

And to facilitate operations for Edgewood staff working in all departments, the design took into account how to improve circulation of both staff and residents. Says Pearson, “The Bistro terrace with its direct access to the kitchen and dining area makes cookouts and other events easier for staff. Meanwhile, a new staff breakroom with expansive windows and natural light provides a welcome refuge during breaks and between shifts.”

Two years after the expansion, the Edgewood facility continues to meet the varying needs of its residents. As Tremblay notes, “The primary motivation for the project was to use updated technology so that we may provide all of the modern amenities available for our residents while maintaining a homelike atmosphere.”

This article was based on interviews with Pearson and Tremblay.

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Project Information:

Name of Facility: Edgewood Retirement Community. Type of Facility: Existing. Function of Facility: Senior living/continuing care. Location: North Andover, MA. Square Footage: 48,000. Budget: $9.5 million. Construction Timetable: Fall 2008 to Spring 2010.  Cost Per Square Foot: $200. Facility Owner: Edgewood Retirement Community. In-House Facility Manager: Kevin Tremblay, Director of Facilities. Architect/Interior Design: Margulies Perruzzi Architects (prime architect); Levi+Wong Design Associates (healthcare and senior care consulting). Owner’s Project Manager: Trident Project Advisors and Development Group. General Contractor/Construction Manager: Eckman Construction. Electrical/Mechanical Engineer: Zade Partners LLC. Structural Engineer: Structures North Consulting Engineers, Inc. Civil Engineer: Christiansen and Sergi, Inc. Art Consultant: Chestnut Design Art Advisors. Landscape Architect: Levi+Wong Design Associates.

Product Information:

Furnishings: American of Martinsville; Architex; Carolina Business Furniture; Ethan Allen; Flexsteel; National; Nevins; Patrician; St. Timothy; Westin Neilsen; Space Table; Volker. Flooring: Altro; Armstrong; Daltile; Johnsonite; Lonseal; Mats, Inc. Carpet: C&A. Ceilings: Armstrong; natural cherry wood strip ceiling (bistro area). Paint: Behr; Benjamin Moore; Sherwin-Williams. Acoustics/Sound Masking: USG (acoustic wall panels). Building Management System: Johnson Controls (Metasys). Fire System Components: SimplexGrinnell (addressable fire alarm system). Other Safety Equipment: SimplexGrinnell (nurse call and e-call system). Lighting: Forecast; Hampton Bay; Lightolier. HVAC: EVAPCO; FHP Manufacturing, part of Bosch Group. Power Supply: Caterpillar; Square D. Roofing: Firestone (metal roof panels, rubber membrane); GAF (shingles); Grace (ice and water shield). Exit Signs: Lightolier. Windows: Marvin. Doors: Ceco (an ASSA ABLOY company); Marshfield.

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