Whenever I think of the typical Western nursing home room, I picture coldness and sterility. Though medically efficient, most nursing home rooms I see lack any sense of real human warmth.
So I was happy to read about a brand-new facility in Buffalo, NY, that’s putting an emphasis on residents’ comfort and well-being. According to a story in the Buffalo News, the $64 million “Highpointe on Michigan” will make residents seem truly “at home.”
“The driving principles were to promote the residents’ dignity…and to give them an environment that’s friendly, full of green space, and full of life,” said James R. Kaskie, CEO of Buffalo-based Kaleida Health.
To Kaleida executives, that meant courtyards, fireplaces, warm colors and a deluxe Jacuzzi. It also meant changing unit names to familiar-sounding locations, such as Hamlin Park and Kaisertown.
It’s long been known that immediate surroundings have a powerful effect on nursing home residents. In a report from 1985, the NIH notes that:
“Awareness that interior design does indeed impact on overall quality of life should lead the nursing home administrator to collaborate with residents, staff and families and to share their input with professional design consultants.”
While most nursing homes still have a long way to go, there seems to be a national movement toward more “humane” design. I’m thinking in particular of the “Green House” project, which so far has more than 100 homes in 27 states.
While it’s vitally important to design homes based around patients’ health, I think it’s equally important to remember that surroundings themselves can impact a patient’s well-being dramatically.