Making SNFs Feel Like Home Without Major Upgrades

Skilled nursing providers don’t need to break the bank or knock down walls to make their facilities more visually attractive.

In fact, some of the more effective design strategies are also some of the simplest, skilled nursing design experts say. And instead of trying to buy the whole package, operators might instead look for a la carte solutions from hotels and homes.

There’s another reason to go with cost-effective designs: a more extensive repositioning could cost as much as building a new facility in the end.


Grand SNF hotel

Upgrades should obviously vary depending on the kind of clients a SNF wants to attract. For example, if an operator wants to fill short-term Medicare rehab beds, they might consider investing in hotel-like amenities. One simple way to do that is to make a SNF’s entryway feel more like a hotel lobby, Melinda Avila-Torio, managing interior designer at THW Design, tells SNN.

Little touches might include free refreshments at the front desk or aromatherapy.


“That way…it’s not an intimidating experience,” Avila-Torio says. “Everyone here is allowing those that come in…to feel at home and not to feel like it’s a typical medical institution.”

Other small redesigns — such as incorporating new televisions, trendy fitness equipment or a bistro area that sells sandwiches, snacks and drinks — can also go a long way in boosting the resort factor without costing too much, Daniel Cinelli, a managing principal at architecture firm Perkins Eastman, tells SNN.

“How can you make it more hotel-like? Can you mirror the Best Western down the street that’s just been redone?” Cinelli says. “You make it a more hotel-like space for that person that’s going to be there on a short-term basis.”

Even some of the more basic renovations like putting in new carpets, redoing kitchens, making windows bigger and brighter, and replacing fluorescent bulbs with less harsh light fixtures can go a long way in promoting comfort and wellness.

“Changing the color of the carpet…to someting that’s green, changing the color of the lighting — that makes you feel good,” Cinelli says.

Home is where the heart is

SNFs can also wow clients through more homelike resident rooms: If residents feel more comfortable, they’re more likely to pick one SNF over another.

“The resident rooms carry significant weight on decisions to enter a community,” Avila-Torio says.

One design trend involves swapping out existing flooring for either luxury vinyl tile with high slip resistance or carpet with solution-dyed yarns. Other low-cost upgrades include modern nightlights, adding more storage components to the closets, and cabinetry with built-in motion activated LED lighting.

Something else to keep in mind: bathrooms are important, too. Replacing hospital-style counters and mirrors for more residential fixtures, or swapping out older showers and tubs for modern models, can also help entice more residents, Avila-Torio says.

Written by Tim Regan

Pictured: A common area at Premier Place, the SNF at Glenview Pelican Bay, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Naples, Fla. Photo courtesy of THW Design.

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