Group homes and assisted living areas can be very pleasant for staff and residents. Planning a home in detail will ensure colors, textures and light work well. Most of all, you want to meet the needs of indoor traffic flow and practical needs of residents. Research as many group homes as possible. Make notes on what works and what doesn’t work long term. Ask administrators at group homes their opinions on parking, drop-off and pick-up areas and living spaces. Above all, review all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act in detail with your architect or builder.
Start with the front foyer. Draw space for staff to work and welcome visitors. Utilize all space allocated for the group home to create both beauty and functionality. Residents and their families will need private areas. Create some room dividers and space for private talks or special visiting. Try to incorporate a feeling of home as much as possible.
Design ceilings that are tall enough to create a spacious feeling. Many people living in a group home will instantly feel cramped if there are too few windows or low ceilings. Create vaulted ceilings in certain living and dining areas to add space. Include skylights, nice lighting fixtures and recessed lighting in the plans.
Allow sufficient space for two beds if residents will have roommates. No one can feel happy living in a group home if private space is not large enough. Design a closet and storage space for each resident. Include a room divider to make sure families can visit with privacy intact. Connect all rooms in the building with hallways that are wide and well lit. Hallways can serve as art galleries as well.
Plan nurses’ stations within reach of several rooms if you're designing a nursing home. Some group homes use a wagon-wheel effect to create multiple hallways administrators can easily oversee. Residents must have instant access to those in charge and vice versa. Create private office space for administrators who need private time for computer work or conferences.
Utilize dining space and recreational space as one. It’s usually too expensive to plan a group home with multiple areas for dining and recreation. Place plenty of storage cabinets around the rooms for crafts or other supplies needed for entertainment or socializing. Design the dining areas to be visitor-friendly as well. Residents should be able to welcome families and visitors at certain times.
Review all aspects of regulations required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Group homes will need doors of proper width to accommodate wheelchairs, bathrooms with certain fixtures and stairs and elevators to serve the handicapped. These requirements will add significant cost to building a group home.
Create outdoor space that is enclosed. This way, residents will not accidentally wonder off. Design garden areas for picnics and conversation.
- Create outdoor space that is enclosed. This way, residents will not accidentally wonder off. Design garden areas for picnics and conversation.
Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.