Boomer Nation: Improving Building Entrances For Seniors
As baby boomers emerge as the primary users of healthcare facilities, it’s important to consider how they enter and exit buildings during their visits. This process involves assessing the entry sequence and focusing on areas like the building canopy, entry vestibule, and lobby.
One of the primary elements of the entry sequence is to address the safety and wellbeing of visitors and patients, looking at remedying tripping hazards to prevent visitor and patient falls, and injury due to other accidents. Those entering the facility are at-risk during arrival, specifically, because they’re typically unsure of the path of travel and are in an unfamiliar setting.
It’s important to note that there are specific design criteria and responses for seniors. Understanding this building entry process from the baby boomer perspective provides insight into appropriate design responses. Here are some to consider:
Provide unimpeded access from the building canopy area to the vestibule
- Reduce clutter and elements that are hazards
- Organize trash cans, umbrellas stands, and freestanding signs
- Eliminate visually confusing elements
Improve the size and functionality of vestibules
- Increase size in both width and depth
- Accommodate wheelchairs, valet stands, and walking-assist devices
Improve lighting underneath canopy areas
- Include both artificial and natural lighting
- Provide constant lighting through the entry sequence—canopy, vestibule, and then lobby
- Reduce glare or direct sunlight
Improve ease of access to entry vestibules
- Increase use of automatic doors and include wider openings
- Provide consistent flooring throughout the vestibule to avoid tripping hazards
Improve views from underneath the canopy to the lobby and the interior of the building
- Provide glass so visitors and patients can see where they’re going
- Provide glass underneath the canopy to provide an improved visitor and patient experience
Improve the floor surface where visitors/patients walk during their entry sequence
- Eliminate all loose floor mats and other elements
- Provide flooring materials that are nonslip in both dry and wet conditions
- Improve floor contrasts where materials change and at other important points during the sequence
As healthcare planners and designers, we need to continue the effort to respond to the new criteria for the boomer generation. Improving the entry sequence will improve the patient experience and keep older patients safe. What do you think? Share your thoughts at @boomerdesign and @HCDmagazine on Twitter.
Gary Vance, AIA, FACHA, LEED AP, is the director of national healthcare for BSA LifeStructures. Gary is a recognized thought leader in healthcare planning and design, providing hospitals with creative solutions to their facility problems. He also collaborates with various healthcare constituent groups to develop innovative solutions to operational, facility, and organizational problems. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visitwww.bsalifestructures.com.