Redevelopment & Occupancy: Growing Your Senior Living Community

Probuild Construction WA
December 7, 2022

Follow these exclusive, cutting-edge redevelopment designs and guidelines for 2021 and beyond.

Time is fluid and things are changing rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but you need your senior living community to keep growing. How do you grow your senior living community during these ever-changing times? 

Redesign. Redevelop. Reinvigorate.

In this article, we will provide exclusive design trends and tips for 2021 and beyond to help your senior living community thrive and grow amidst a pandemic, increase revenue generation, and solidify its future sustainability. 

If you don’t have the experience carrying out redevelopment projects, our team at ProBuild Construction will collaborate with you to make sure your vision meets its goals each step of the way with the highest of integrity, workmanship, and professionalism.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped senior living for the future?

Despite senior housing occupancy rates and move-ins being down, people moving out are holding steady. Developers and investors should be foreseeing expansion opportunities as the pandemic levels out of the real estate landscape.

There have, however, been some changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Communal dining & buffet-style canceled
  • Large group activities canceled
  • Decreased congregate living

While the coronavirus pandemic has led to concerns over a possible real estate collapse, senior housing is an area that will be resilient. There will always be an aging population and of those, people who will need extra care. It is unavoidable.

How does redevelopment help grow a senior living community?

Gone are the days of building 300-unit Life Plan Communities. New developments require high, capital-intensive loans. Coupled with rising land prices and market pressures, redevelopment of existing campuses are the future.

With an intelligent, strategic plan, redevelopment can:

  • Attract & increase occupancy 
  • Help reinforce a new brand direction 
  • Gain a younger resident base  
  • Win a share of the market

How should you redevelop or renovate your senior living community to stay relevant and profitable? 

Senior living communities need to offer attractive, mainstream lifestyles while incorporating its residents unique needs throughout. Savvy, strategic remodels and renovations address these.

What are the trending redevelopment and remodeling designs in senior living communities for 2021 and beyond?

There are multiple trending redevelopment options:

  • The Village Utopian Model
  • The Wellness Model
  • The HighTech Model
  • The Healthy Spaces Model

Architecture and design play an integral role in creating a thriving and growing senior living community. 

Three key trending elements for future developments, expansions and renovations are likely to include: 

  • A focus on outdoor spaces
  • A reimagining of ventilation systems 
  • A return to greater compartmentalization


The Village Utopian Model

A senior living community needs to become a cohesive part of its community fabric. This helps create opportunities for seniors to remain relevant and encourages community engagement.

What is The Village Utopian Model?

The Village Utopian Model is also known as an elevated “Age in Place”. This is similar to the GreenHouse Project, where there are dorm-like living spaces with common spaces, kitchen, and dining spaces. The Village Utopian Model typically is a micro-community of homes for independent living intertwined with memory care cottages and small higher-care housing. 

There are walking trails, common areas, bistros, small shops, fitness centers, mini-health and wellness clinics, and arts, all either within the housing community itself or within close proximity to the surrounding community. 

Many times these communities are philanthropically supported by: 

Modern Age-in-Place remodeling and redevelopment projects might add these amenities and designs:

Common area redevelopment and remodeling design examples:

  • Breaking up open areas with ½ to ¾ walls
  • Moveable partitions & demountable screens
  • Configurable outdoor spaces for social gatherings
  • Large moveable planters
  • Segregated dining & lounge areas
  • Conversion of rooms into visitation suites

An experienced team like ProBuild Construction will help guide your design and construction for a successful redevelopment or renovation with an existing or new senior living facility.


The Wellness Design

One of the top trends in senior living design is creating holistic and healthy communities focused on physical, mental and social well-being. This design type takes advantage of the existing building to maximize opportunities to connect with the outdoors.

Examples of this include: 

Technology and HVAC Systems

Implementing smart energy management systems increases profit margins by saving on energy costs while creating a safe and comfortable environment for residents.

Technology can reduce the spread of germs by eliminating potential germ sources. Products such as: 


  • utilize silver & copper ion antimicrobial technology
  • help eliminate microbial growth on solid surfaces

Puro Lighting’s M2

  • broad spectrum UV lights disinfect 
  • light can eliminate 99.9% of bacteria & viruses

Physical, Mental, and Social Wellness Areas

Complete wellness includes physical well-being. Designing spaces for fitness, yoga, and wellness classes are necessary for future senior living communities.

Design these spaces so that they can be easily reconfigured for continuing education classes or private visitation spaces. Both of those encourage the mental and social aspects of total well-being.

The HighTech Model

Integrating modern high-tech into operations and housing amenities expands profit margins and building asset values by reducing the organization’s operational costs and supporting resident’s autonomy.

 Different types of high-tech for senior housing communities:


This form of high-tech allows remote specialists and medical staff to access patient history and biometrics giving them the ability to deliver care directly to residents from remote locations. 

Smart Energy Management/HVAC/Lighting Systems

With these systems, an almost private ecosystem can be created from lighting to heating, from private rooms to common areas. 

Commercial Smart IoT-enabled HVAC systems have the ability to monitor resident rooms for body heat, motion, and temperature in real time. 

Smart thermostats and occupancy sensors give operators the ability to adjust for maximum comfort and lowest energy consumption through modernized HVAC diagnostic alerts and AI learning algorithms.

AI learning algorithms and HVAC diagnostic tools analyze:

  • Local weather patterns
  • Thermodynamics
  • Peak demand loads throughout all 4 seasons

Smart lighting interface with smart HVAC energy management systems and occupancy sensors which have the ability to understand energy needs and adjust to the changes in resident occupancy patterns.

High Speed Internet

Isolation negatively affects seniors and providing them with high speed internet access creates a link to friends and family members when in person visits are not possible. 

TechSavvy Senior

Alexa. Smart home devices. Internet. Baby boomers are a wired generation and they want 5g networks, smart lights, smart thermostats, smart appliances, and sophisticated security systems. These are the new must-haves for senior living communities. 


The Healthy Spaces Model

The need to protect seniors from infection has always been crucial, with recent events, senior living facilities have had to take a deeper look into how their designs and spaces are supporting that.


The Healthy Spaces Model uses the existing footprint while simultaneously keeping a socially rich residential lifestyle by: 

  •  Reconfiguring visitation rooms with glass partitions
  • Adopting various sized outdoor gathering spaces for outdoor eating, games, gardening areas, & walking paths
  • Compartmentalized/segregated living suites, dining, & lounge areas
  • Demountable screens/partitions - flex spaces
  • Flexible lobby zones with testing capabilities: pre-lobby testing zone, wait in isolation for results
  • Conversion of units or rooms to visitation suites/isolation rooms
  • Reduction of touch points: lever-less door handles, touch-less elevator controls, hands-free faucets


What are the trending senior living community paint schemes for 2021?

Senior Living Color

No drab white and hospital greens for today’s seniors. Trending colors have personality and vibrancy. Organic tones and saturated hues. Playful palettes for engaging residents, family, and staff.


A foundation palette of refined and elegant warm neutrals drawing on natural elements with a range of finishes balancing warm and cool tones creating a feeling of comfort and timelessness.


Representing today’s culturally active seniors is a sophisticated palette of a rich and colorful medley. These tones suit well with dining and lounge areas. Senior living communities provide a caring and supportive environment right in the communities they know and love.

Include a broad, organic palette without pairing similar cool tones. Seniors have difficulty distinguishing from pale blue to pale green. Floor coverings should contrast with wall colors and elements like handrails.

When choosing colors in memory care cottages or facilities, keep in mind colors often seem muted as the eye ages. Use varied, brighter colors to help residents find their way around and distinguish between spaces.

Senior Housing Redevelopment Alternatives

If you are considering redeveloping a building for senior living housing there are options that have opened up due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are other senior housing redevelopment options?

Hotel-to-senior living conversions

With convention business & travel halted, occupancy and revenue has bottomed out in the hotel industry and defaults are on the horizon. Hotels share similar amenities as senior living communities such as:

  • Private rooms
  • Large communal spaces
  • Designated entrance & delivery areas

Shopping Mall-to-senior living conversions

Starting with the nearly country-wide shutdowns in March 2020, retail has been hit hard and key department stores have failed, leaving large anchor store spaces available. There are mixed use possibilities when redeveloping a mall for a senior living community such as:

  • Health care
  • Live-work-play opportunities
  • Continuing care retirement community 
  • Multi-level care housing



College Dormitory-to-senior living conversions

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment has declined and students are less apt to living in the dorms, leaving wide open dormitories just waiting to be filled. Universities are now forming partnerships with developers and are leveraging campus amenities for seniors. A bit of renovating may be needed for updates.


Tips and strategies to consider for a successful senior housing redesign and redevelopment project for 2021 and beyond:

  • Start with the end goal in mind. Do you plan upgrades in steps or all at once?
  • Do your homework by analyzing the market, your competitors, demand, and consumer trends
  • Designs need to be cleaner and smarter in every sense
  • Create customizable residential suites by giving the residents choices in cabinets, countertops, flooring & other finishes
  • Create multiple dining venues with flexible meal times and the ability to dine-in or carry-out
  • There should be flexibility of space, more specifically, transformable residential and common areas. Multi-purpose rooms can be created in the common areas by use of partitions and walls. Spa treatment rooms, theater spaces, and exercise rooms are examples of spaces within spaces.
  • Partner with an experienced senior living development construction team
  • Incorporate infection prevention protocols by creating smaller groups of units and designating isolation spaces
  • Increase outside usage space
  • Revamp HVAC circulation within smaller areas such as isolated individual care spaces and consider airflow contagion mitigation
  • Create on site workforce housing units
  • Focus will be on outside spaces, compartmentalization, and increased technology integration
  • Increase storage space for items like PPE supplies
  • Be distinctive and provide unique amenities
  • Keep residents happy during renovation and remodeling


Parting Thought

A senior living community environment that attracts and retains people, stays competitive. Seniors will choose a community when they see an opportunity to live their best life, be autonomous, be their best selves, and remain engaged with their community as long as possible.

The key to a wise renovation strategy is determining what upgrades you should make to stay competitive as newer providers move into your local market. 

A well-conceived vision and strategic plan analyzed with financial modeling, paired with a professional development company will facilitate a successful senior housing community redevelopment. 

ProBuild Construction has the proven ability of past projects in providing exceptional craftsmanship, professionalism, and dedication to executing your vision in a timely manner. Contact us today by calling (253) 844-7547 for your free, no-obligation consultation.

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