Duncaster Retirement Community
Baby Boomers are changing the way we provide housing and care,” says Michael O’Brien, president and CEO at Duncaster. “There is increasing desire for a robust program of health and wellness. As a result, design features are changing. We are breaking down the institutional feel to create an environment that is important to residents, their families and our caregivers.”
Memory care has additional design demands. “Conceptually, we approach design for memory care like we would any project. We start with the belief that design can make differences in people’s lives,” says Myles Brown, design principal with Amenta Emma Architects of Hartford.
“We are always focused on maximizing natural light and views to the outdoors, while creating well-proportioned, clearly organized, interconnected interior spaces that foster both social interaction and independence. The expertise comes in the form of subtle design details such as higher levels of artificial lighting, lighting control, interior finishes, accessibility/safety, and heightened visual clarity. Good design makes these details invisible to most users so
that no one would say, ‘This looks like a memory care project’.”
Duncaster added a 12-bed unit for memory care, doubling its capacity for this particular population. A majestic
100-year-old oak, known by residents as the Charter Oak, is the organizing element for the new building’s form and placement, symbolizing strength, endurance, protection, success and stability. It also became the inspiration for the
interior design’s “Connection to Nature” theme. Architects centered the building on the oak tree, stepping the footprint to bring southern light and glimpses of the tree to each resident room. They opened up the end of the building to a glassed activity room, or conservatory, where the tree can be viewed on all its magnificence.
At The Grove, a renovation rather than new construction, there was an opportunity to split two oversized rooms at the end of a hall to create a SAIDO room. SAIDO Learning is a new concept in memory care developed in Japan where residents are challenged with 30 minutes of math, reading and writing at least five times a week which has been
proven to reverse or slow the progress of dementia. The Grove is the first facility in New England to employ the method. Pamela Klapproth, Covenant’s executive director, says, “The program helps reduce signs and symptoms of agitated behavior.” [The program] helps bring them back to who they are as people, she notes.