Comforts of Home: Minimizing impact on residents key to success of projects at senior living facilities

From measures to safeguard immuno-suppressed individuals to special care in protecting seniors’ memorabilia, renovation projects in senior-living facilities require unique skills.

“It’s a different type of construction, even from healthcare,” said Adam Bell, a project executive with Plano-Coudon Construction.

Plano-Coudon crews will soon complete large renovation projects at senior living facilities in Carroll and Frederick counties.

Integrace – operator of the Fairhaven and Copper Ridge facilities in Sykesville –contracted Plano-Coudon to complete a wide-ranging list of renovations and additions on its 300-plus acre campus. Those include constructing two large commercial kitchens and two upscale bistros, and a 2,500-square-foot addition to house both an adult day/night care facility for individuals with dementia and a dementia-research center, complete with physicians’ offices, clinics and training areas. In addition, Plano-Coudon is completing extensive upgrades of interior finishes in shared living and dining spaces, lobbies, medical offices, an auditorium, locker room, mailroom and elsewhere. Crews have built a new sunroom, reworked a parking lot and storm water management pond, and outfitted older buildings with improved insulation and mechanical systems.

“It has taken a lot of coordination between Plano-Coudon and our building and nursing staff to complete this work,” said Robert Albright, vice president of facilities development at Integrace. “Plano-Coudon has been very conscientious about meeting our needs. As you can imagine, in a senior care facility, a lot of our residents are immuno-suppressed. But you could see on a daily basis that Plano-Coudon is on top of the measures needed to protect our residents.”

Crews have operated negative air machines, enclosed active construction areas, and restricted work to small areas at a time to limit construction dust, fumes and noise. Crews have also taken extra precautions to safeguard residents who have issues with vision, mobility or dementia.

“You have to worry about things you normally don’t think about,” Bell said. “If you left a ladder out, somebody might try to climb it or somebody might trip over it. So whenever workers have to leave tools on site, we lock them in a room away from the residents.”

At Taney Village – an Enterprise Homes apartment building in Frederick that provides affordable housing to lower income seniors and adults with disabilities – Plano-Coudon recently replaced the building’s roof and windows, upgraded elevators, installed a new air handler, and completed other building-wide infrastructure improvements. Crews are also meticulously renovating 130 occupied apartments. Those renovations include installing new kitchen cabinets and appliances, new bathroom fixtures, closet doors, and sinks, as well as repainting units and upgrading other interior finishes.

“This one is pretty tricky because we go into folks’ apartments during the day, renovate and, at the end of the day, have it cleaned up to the point where we can allow people back into the units and not have any safety issues,” Bell said.

Plano-Coudon and its subcontractors have handled that challenge by working on less than a dozen apartments at a time and completing each within two weeks; allotting time for meticulous prep and cleanup each day to safeguard residents’ possessions; and regularly adapting work plans to accommodate the particular needs of the day.

“You have to do a lot of thinking on the fly to make things work for people,” Bell said. “You can’t just leave people without a bathroom for a day or a kitchen for a day, so maybe you put something in place temporarily to allow that resident to function until we complete the job.”

Plano-Coudon, Bell said, has developed distinctive abilities to handle projects at senior living facilities. In addition to having ample experience in occupied renovations and healthcare construction, “a lot of our guys are pretty adaptable and have abilities to figure out challenges in the middle of a project and complete work with the least impact on residents. With this kind of construction, you can’t just go in there and expect to push through a lot of quick production. It takes a lot more planning, coordination and care, which are things we are good at.”