Printer Friendly

The Madison House.

Not long ago, the typical nursing home was little more than a place for the elderly to pass their remaining days. The best of today's long-term care facilities truly resemble a home, where activities and decor encourage residents to keep on living. A recent example is The Madison House, located in Madison, CT., one of the state's premier shoreline towns, and developed by Connecticut Health Facilities, Inc. (CHF), which has a long-standing reputation for leadership in the life care facility market. CHF facilities are designed to meet the prevailing marketplace aesthetics and foster activities as part of patient care.

Understanding the market and recognizing that, if given a choice, families would rather have their loved ones closer to home, Andrew Tarutis, director of development at CHF during the project's design, expressed the following goals: a facility that was upscale, elegant and, above-all residential in feeling. A gracious country inn was the image that came to mind.

There were good business reasons for this, as witness the following results. The facility was fully occupied in nine months, rather than the anticipated 12, has sustained a 100% occupancy rate, and continues to have a long waiting list. Administrator Kathleen Dess reports "exceedingly low" staff turnover and Nursing Director Barbara Slobin says the residents' period of adjustment is unusually short.

Design Overview

One of CHF's goals for the project was that it be totally noninstitutional - a significant challenge in a facility where larger spaces are the norm, and smaller spaces tend to form a repetitive pattern.

Two strategies were needed. The first centered on layout and organization. CHF felt a one-story facility would significantly enhance ambiance. The plan also centralized treatment and administrative spaces in a center core, removed from the residential wings, which then become true havens of rest and relaxation. The second strategy was to "think residential" and strategically apply touches of home in spaces as private as bedrooms and as public as the recreation room.

Walking Through

The residential graciousness begins at the reception area, designed to be reminiscent of an elegant living room. Appointments are homelike in scale and include personal touches such as a writing desk and a sideboard with refreshments. Residents enjoy greeting guests at the front door as if it were their own home. Corniced, draped windows and a chandelier further dress the space.

The wood-trimmed reception desk is unobtrusively built into a wall and resembles a concierge station. Admissions Director Terry Cullen says visitors often equate the ambiance with that of a resort hotel, making it easier to admit their loved ones.

Each residential wing has 45 beds in single and double configurations, shower rooms, clean and soiled workrooms, and, at its center, a nurses station. A focal point of each wing is a three-story atrium.

To reduce the visual scale of the project, and provide a change of pace for residents, we designed each wing with a distinct country ambiance. The Meigs Point wing has an English country theme with plaids in jewel tones, darker chintz florals, and tailored stripes. Artwork is rustic. With its celadon lattice paper, Chippendale furniture and botanical prints, the Meigs Point dining room has an English conservatory feel.

In contrast, the Tuxis Pond wing has a more casual, provincial feeling - tea-stained colors in mauves blues, terra cottas and beiges, and furniture in light oak and maple. The dining room's contemporary pastel plaids, paired with a complimentary stripe and French country floral, offer the ambiance of countryside dining.

Given their size, dining rooms often present intimacy challenges. In health care facilities, tables are not usually set with four chairs in order to accommodate wheelchairs. To help fill the visual gap the table bases are shaped like Grecian urns in a patina finish. Moldings, wallpaper borders, and pilasters further break up the space and help increase a sense of coziness.

In the residents' rooms, several attributes create a feeling of home. The first is the "front door." While standard, oversized fire-rated doors are used throughout, each is transformed into a paneled door through the creative use of molding. Upgraded nameplates literally frame residents' names against a backdrop coordinated to the room.

A centerpiece of every room is a built-in wardrobe with open shelves for personalizing space with cherished pictures and other mementos. Among the other amenities of home: a window seat that affords views of landscaped gardens and an unconventional place to perch, sheer curtains that provide a sense of privacy and soften the outdoor light, and commercial quality candlestick table lamps, bolted for safety and security, and with switches appropriate for the elderly.

A "Change of Place"

Large public spaces require a conscientious effort to create a sense residential ambiance.

As mentioned, the three-story atria are key focal points of each residential wing. Designed as yet another place in which to foster activities, they are equally suited for an English Tea and a "Sunday sundae party" with grandchildren. The bright soaring height adds to the "change of place" feeling but provides another design challenge: while the atrium is only 1,000 square feet, the height, which provides its airiness, also works against its intimacy. Market square umbrellas continue the festive theme and effectively lower the ceiling to human level.

Throughout the atrium, we also incorporated a series of banquettes to provide convenient resting places for those traveling through and quieter conversation nooks for smaller groups. Planters also serve a double purpose. The trees soften the atrium's ambiance, and the wheelchair-height boxes with handrails can be used to foster garden club activities.

The largest public space is the recreation room in the central core, shared by both wings, for which we selected several kinds of chairs and sofas, arranged in living room-size configurations.

The room's centerpiece is an 8[feet] x 10[feet] fireplace. The fireplace itself is a standard 3[feet] x 4[feet] unit, but to provide dimensions appropriate for the room, we raised the hearth approximately 12 inches above the floor, framed it with European tiles, and added a wood mantle. To increase proportions horizontally and vertically, we flanked the unit with artificial pilasters.

Details at Work

Close attention was paid to often overlooked details:

Carpeting. The entire facility, except the dining rooms, bathrooms and utility spaces, is carpeted. This reduces reverberation in hallways, and in the bedrooms, provides a soft landing spot from bed.

Molding. As a decorative and scale-reducing tool, moldings and chair rails break up large spaces. For example, handrails mounted to moldings create a chair rail effect.

Pictures. We make very deliberate choices about pictures, selecting a variety of themes, from landscapes to children on the beach, and a range of sizes for other than predictable arrangements. The same distinctions apply to frames. To eliminate an institutional cookie-cutter look, we try to select a frame specifically for the picture.

Lighting. Lamps and sconces are small details that make a big contribution to reducing a space's institutional feel - vanity lighting in residents' bathrooms and, in the smaller lounges, a small, casual chandelier to add ambiance without customizing the space.

Ceiling Heights. In large spaces, varying the ceiling height creates a sense of space within a space. In the corridors between public spaces and bedrooms, we raised the ceilings to mark the transition.

All in all, a very thoroughgoing design, with a heavy emphasis on physical attractiveness. Was it worth it? One family member's comment sums it up best:" Your home is very attractive... I think it is the best place in this area."

Annemarie Kretschmann is principal of Annemarie Kretschmann Interior Design (AMKID). Based in Westport, CT, AMKID specializes in Interior design of health-related facilities. Ms. Kretschmann has designed a wide range of facilities including Alzheimer Special Care Units, medical offices, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and long-term living centers.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Medquest Communications, LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:nursing home
Author:Kretschmann, Annemarie
Publication:Nursing Homes
Date:Jul 1, 1996
Previous Article:Making the choice to carpet.
Next Article:Designing therapeutic environments.

Related Articles
Diversification: a view from the grass roots.
Assisted living for Alzheimer's patients.
Banishing the disabled.
Moving into assisted living.
Sizing up assisted living.
Assisted living; snapshot: 1995.
Spring thaw, but will nursing homes bloom?
Partnering for progress.
'98 policy issues: looking ahead.
News flash: survey implementation "inconsistent". (NH News Notes).

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters