How would you advise developers or architects looking to renovate a nursing home? Emi Kiyota related a frustrating exchange along these lines on her blog (http://ibashoblog.wordpress.com).
Emi had trouble convincing the developers that the people who lived and worked at the home might have meaningful input into the type of design that would improve their well-being. They didn’t feel they had anything to learn from the people who experience the environment 24/7.
For years, we have been designing long-term care buildings based on an institutional model that places tasks and cost-efficiency above individual needs. For years, nursing homes have been a place people dread. And yet we keep doing the same thing over and over.
We are inside the box, have become experts on building the box, and keep trying to build a prettier box. It’s still a box.
Emi was asked by the developer for “10 bullet points” for design ideas. She hadn’t actually given them a list, but when later asked in the “comments” thread what her 10 bullet points might have been, here’s what Emi came up with:
(1) Listen to elders and staff, (2) listen to them more, (3) listen to them carefully, (4) listen to them again, (5) try to listen, (6) listen to them one more time, (7) listen to them even more carefully, (8) listen to them without interruption, (9) listen to them with respect, and (10) ask yourself if your decision is based on the best interests of elders.