Sunrise Senior Living Provides Seniors with Safety, Comfort and Style in Bathroom Design

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Sunrise and its architects have partnered with suppliers such as Best Bath Systems to provide residents with high-quality fiberglass showers that provide safety, comfort and residential styling

Sunrise Senior Living is acutely aware of the importance of safety, comfort and aesthetic appeal of every aspect of living accommodations for seniors – particularly in bathroom design. This applies to the whole range of residents, ranging from those who are capable of independent living to those who require rehabilitative or Alzheimer’s care.

Regardless of the level of care required, Sunrise Senior Living insists that its facilities maintain a warm and friendly residential atmosphere, rather than an institutional one. In order to maximize its success in doing so, Sunrise often partners with vendors such as Best Bath Systems, Boise, Idaho, to provide the best solutions possible.

An innovative leader in adaptable access bathing products since 1972, Best Bath has worked with Sunrise and other organizations involved with the planning and development of shower systems that meet the requirements of seniors, acute care patients, residents in rehabilitation and those requiring “universal access” accommodations.

“Most of our residents become increasingly frail over the years of their stay with us,” says Gene Schoenfelder, Vice President, Construction Management Sunrise Senior Living. “So we have worked with our design partners to make our showers adaptable in many residences.”

According to Timothy Danforth, AIA partner in charge of construction administration at BeeryRio Architecture + Interiors, the primary architect for Sunrise facilities in the U.S., one of the most important principals behind the Sunrise Senior Living concept is the residential appearance of its facilities.

“Sunrise’s objective is to not make the facility look like a nursing home or hospital,” explains Danforth. “So, while these facilities are actually sophisticated commercial buildings, they are hidden under a residential skin, so that when families come to visit the residents they come to a very comfortable home environment, not in an institution.”

“We have worked closely with manufacturers in designing customized shower units for Sunrise,” says Danforth. “Best Bath has always been responsive, stepping up and investing on re-tooling for new designs and product enhancements.”

As an example, Best Bath collaborated with Sunrise and BeeryRio on a unique shower design that includes a low profile, collapsible, neoprene “water dam” at the base of the shower entry. The water dam is highly flexible, and gives way to wheelchairs, walkers or feet, and then reforms its original shape to prevent water from flowing out onto the bathroom floor.

Safety devices such as grab-bars and handrails are also crucial components in senior facilities. It is critical that safety bars are well placed, in accordance with a resident’s size or other needs. In some cases, such as due to injuries or increasing frailty, safety bars must be added or relocated.

Best Bath satisfies those needs by incorporating a heavy, 1/2-inch plywood backing into the walls of its shower enclosures. This permits the installation, relocation or addition of safety bars at virtually any location that hold securely under lateral loads of 300 lbs.

The selection and placement of controls is also important for fragile seniors. In some cases the shower units at Sunrise Senior Living facilities feature control fixtures of contrasting colors so they are easily visible to residents.

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Jeff Mooney
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