How to Develop a Master Plan for Senior Living and Long-term Care Facility Building Projects
As Baby Boomers continue to age, Senior Living and Long Term Care companies are faced with the challenge of providing a living environment that accommodates and enhances the active lifestyle of this generation.
Aging in place: The ability for a single company or facility to provide care and a quality standard of living for all groups of older adults, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care, is appealing to many families and residents of this demographic. Developing a reliable Master Plan for Senior Living and Long Term Care facilities is imperative to a successful facility project with a maximum return on investment. A Master Plan provides an effective way to determine future building and land utilization, and configuration. This process helps owners, staff, and stakeholders determine the feasibility of a new facility, expansion, or renovation of an existing facility. This analysis will also help define the size and appropriate location of buildings and rooms.
Evaluating Existing Facilities: The first step of the Master Planning process is to carry out a Building Assessment Survey of the existing facility buildings to determine the structure’s potential for re-use. This includes an analysis of the exterior building envelope, building and life safety codes, interior structural analysis, review of mechanical and electrical systems, security, handicap accessibility, and general space allocation.
Land and Space Analysis: This phase involves evaluating the existing land, facilities, and space in regards to the needs of the residents, staff, building, and sufficiency of space and functions. Perhaps the most important phase of the Master Plan process is acquiring thorough feedback from residents and staff, as well as gaining a solid understanding of the operations, the use of facility spaces, and how they function.
Discuss Potential Concepts: Concept options are created according to the notes from the previous meetings with all stakeholders involved. Each concept is described in detail and includes pertinent information on associated design and construction estimates.
Conceptual Development: After an option is reviewed and approved, a design rendering is created. Computer model renderings generated with a program, such as Revit, are an excellent way to illustrate a conceptual design. These plans are color-coded to show existing and new departmental configurations, as well as the extent of remodeling.
Project Scheduling: A detailed schedule for potential projects and a timeline for the design, construction, and occupancy phases is developed with owners, staff, and designers. Following the schematic design, it is important to anticipate a requirement such as a Certificate of Need (CON) during the project scheduling phase, a process which could potentially take 3-9 months. Reviewable activities can include, among other things, the renovation or addition to a Long Term Care or Senior Living facility with a capital cost of more than 2 million dollars. Certain projects, such as a mechanical system upgrade or a correction of cited deficiencies in violation of safety laws or building code, usually do not required a CON.
Project Cost Estimate: A cost estimate is developed for the project including construction costs, fees, permits, furnishings and equipment, and potential land acquisition expenses. It is important that pricing is evaluated both in terms of current value and future value, including the anticipated average inflation rates in the construction industry.
Final Facilities Master Plan Report: The final report is comprised of materials developed throughout the process including project goals, interviews, questionnaires, meeting minutes, financial feasibility study results, cost analysis, and final concept renderings. While the Master Planning process may seem tedious at times, it is important that all stakeholders are involved from the beginning so that the appropriate concept that accommodates the needs of a healthier and more active Senior Community is achieved. It is vital to get the concept right during the Master Plan phase for fund raising purposes and to avoid change orders during the design and construction phases. It will also help ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.