Environment Consulting Services for Long Term Care

This page describes the consulting services we offer and provides links to some of our recent long term care projects.

Developing a new program, remodeling an existing unit or building a new facility are all complex ventures that require extensive efforts by a multi-disciplinary team to achieve positive results. It is the belief of I.D.E.A.S., Inc. that projects should incorporate the input from the multiple users of the setting, including staff and where possible, residents. I.D.E.A.S., Inc. also strongly suggests projects always begin by examining the underlying philosophy and goals that are driving the project. Having a clear destination in mind makes it easier to get there. It is important to know where you are going before you start going. Below are descriptions of several points in the development and design process where I.D.E.A.S., Inc. has specific expertise. Each describes the scope of services typically covered, and suggests “ideal” time allocations, although there is a great deal of flexibility for tailoring the work to specific project needs. It should also be stressed that this should be viewed as a cafeteria-type plan, where clients can pick and choose the services that meet their needs.

Preparing to Develop a New Program that Incorporates the Physical Environment

We often start with an introduction and exploration of the concept of the physical environment as a therapeutic resource. This typically involves 4-16 hours and includes facility staff, residents and board members (if available) as well as key design staff (architecture and interiors). An overview to key therapeutic goals in a way which links programmatic and functional concerns for the residents with the physical environment provides the foundation for developing functional and architectural programs that clearly define the scope of the project. Various different models of care, and the operational implications of each are also reviewed at this time. an example of this is our work at the Wealshire in Chicago, IL.

Evaluating the Current Program and Building

In design and renovation projects, it is essential to gain a clear understanding of how well the existing facility (assuming there is one) is working, to identify problems, examine successful building characteristics and explore potentially desirable features. Such evaluation efforts may range from a relatively brief facility walk-through with a few staff to a more detailed process which includes interviews and systematic observation of on-going patterns of behaviors in selected areas of the facility (8-40 hours). An example of this is our work at Hennis Care Center in Dover, OH.

Functional and Operational Programming Design Report

Successful projects begin with a clearly defined functional/operational program that articulates the philosophies, therapeutic goals and models of care for the project. At this point, the needs and abilities of the residents and their expected or desired daily routines are defined and related to staffing models (ratios and areas of responsibility), and options for various service delivery systems are explored. Staff training needs are also identified in this phase. This document serves as the foundation for an architectural program (20-60 hours). An example of this is our work at Ohio Eastern Star in Mt. Vernon, OH.

Architectural Programming for the New or Remodeled Building

Once a detailed functional/operational program is developed, the architectural programming process defines the range of spaces necessary to the project. Each space is defined not only in terms of size and basic support system needs (electrical and plumbing), but also in terms of the character of the space, and how it is intended to be used. Indeed, it is these latter characteristics that should determine room size and adjacencies. I.D.E.A.S., Inc. involvement in programming can vary from periodic review of a programming document developed by the designers (6-8 hours) to a more active role in working with the client to develop the functional program (24-40 hours). An example of this is our work at Meriter Retirement Community in Madison, WI.

Physical Environment Design Review

Once schematic designs are underway, periodic review of the plans provides a check-point for insuring that the therapeutic goals of the project are being met through the design. Each review takes between 3 and 5 hours, depending on the stage of completeness of the plans and the clarity of the programming documents. At least three reviews are recommended. A detailed review of final design, prior to developing construction documents, is also recommended, and typically takes 5-15 hours. An example of this is our work at Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Center for Jewish Life in Philadelphia, PA.

Management and Caregiver Staff Training

Knowledgeable and skilled caregivers are likely the most critical component to a successful, supportive care setting. Staff training should be linked with the therapeutic goals of the project to insure that the residents are receiving the desired care services. The services, and consequently the amount of time needed, for this phase of the process can vary widely, depending on existing staff knowledge and resources. Some facilities request simple directives to other available training resources, while others request a complete training package tailored to the facility’s needs. An example of this is our work at Friendship Village in Dublin, OH.

Planning Successful Long Term Care Interiors

Interior designers play a major role in the design process, as they are responsible for much of what clients and visitors “see” in the building. For long-term success, the interiors need to meet the needs of the residents’ decreased sensory receptivity, the needs of staff and families, as well as meeting the functional requirements of the maintenance department. Ideally, the interior designer is selected and brought into the process early in the project. This insures that they understand the goals of the project, and increases the likelihood that the interior design is both aesthetic and functional. Time needed for interiors varies considerably, depending on several factors (when the interior designers were involved in the project, their previous experience with and knowledge about elderly, etc.). We typically allocate between 8 and 20 hours. An example of this is our work at Ohio Eastern Star in Mt. Vernon, OH.

Post-Occupancy Evaluation of the New Building

While this is commonly not discussed in the early stages of a project, planning for a post-occupancy evaluation provides important feedback to both the client and the designers. Matching the reality of an operating facility against the therapeutic goals and functional program helps to identify potential problem areas. Early detection of emerging problems can lead to the development of more effective strategies for their resolution. Again, the amount of time varies considerably, but ranges from 6 to 60 hours. An example of this is our work at Creekview in Oshkosh, WI.


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I.D.E.A.S., Inc., 8051 Chardon Road, Kirtland, Ohio 44094 | Phone: 440.256.1880 | Fax: 440.256.1881