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Contruction in a quiet zone.

The last place anyone wants to hear pounding hummers and groaning earth movers is in the tranquil setting of a senior care center, yet expansions and renovations are a fact of life for many of these centers today. For contractors, working at a senior care center and trying to respect the needs of residents always presents new problems in managing a project.

Contractors are often placed squarely between the administrators, who want the project done on time, and staff members and residents, who must work or live amidst the chaos. The conflicting forces can affect the quality of care residents receive, delay completion of a project and tarnish the relationship between the contractor and the facility. How do you reduce disturbances to residents during construction projects? The solution depends on the working relationship between you, your staff and your contractor, and the degree of planning you engage in before work begins.

Pre-Planning Is Essential

The first step in avoiding resident disturbances is developing a plan with your contractor and your staff for dealing with potential disturbances and schedule conflicts before construction begins.

To develop an effective plan, be sure your contractor informs you of all possible logistical needs affecting residents, such as having to shut down the power or water temporarily, or any work that will be particularly noisy. Also, find out which staff members will be affected by the construction, and discuss with them any special scheduling needs they or the residents in their care may require.

To make pre-planning easier, include in the planning a member of your operations staff who fully understands all the intricacies of your building's mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Also, make sure your operations staff passes on documentation of all the center's systems to assist the contractor.

Finally, your plan should designate who should contact whom if a disruption arises, and who should be involved in resolving the conflict.

Flexible Scheduling/Creative Solutions

Senior care center construction projects demand incredible flexibility on the part of your contract. Consider this scenario: An older senior care facility has only one elevator. Residents rely heavily on the elevator during mealtimes to reach the cafeteria. You contractor must also use the elevator to get delivered materials to an area being renovated on the upper floors. Special care must be taken to see that deliveries do not conflict with scheduled mealtimes. If important construction materials cannot be moved upstairs because suppliers are unaware of this scheduling, it can result in serious work delays.

A contractor with extensive renovation experience in senior care construction can minimize disruptions by adapting both work and workers to a facility's hectic schedule. You should ask your contractor about establishing "quiet hours" for part of each work day, when "quiet work" can be conducted.

Here's how the "quiet hours" system works: your contractor is tearing down a wall. The work is organized so that the wrecking is done during normal hours, and the debris is cleaned up (quiet work) during the "quiet hours." The times between "quiet hours" is when most of the progress on the project will be made. To make the most of these regular workhours, your contractor should assign extra manpower.

Clean Is Safe

Keeping a construction site clean takes on a whole new meaning when working in a senior care center. Controlling the spread of dust is a primary concern, especially during renovations, because of the impact dust has on the health of residents.

Here are some issues you should raise with your contractor about site cleanliness before construction begin: Will negative air machines be used to suck dust out of areas under construction? When partitions are built between rooms (with clear plastic or drywall), will they be carefully sealed with tape along the floor and ceiling, and will they be checked regularly for leaks for the duration of the construction project? Will workers be required to dust off before they leave the construction area, and will the contractor require them to avoid public areas of the center, such as the cafeteria or the lobby? If your contractor can meet these requirements, you have eliminated a major source of complaints from staff and residents during a construction project.

Taking the necessary time to sort through all potential construction problems and schedule conflicts before any work begins goes a long way toward reducing headaches for everyone. Careful pre-planning, and a degree of flexibility and sensitivity from your contractor will help bridge the gap between getting the project done on time and keeping resident and staff disturbances to a minimum.
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Title Annotation:planning ahead to avoid disturbing the elderly residents during a construction or renovation
Author:Hellermann, Paul
Publication:Nursing Homes
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Surmounting the frustrations of building codes.
Next Article:The making of a new facility.

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