As the pandemic continues to affect the long-term care industry, the future of assisted living is likely to involve a return to and enhancement of the “neighborhood” planning model, according to industry architects Michael Liu and Anthony Vivirito, at Boston-based The Architectural Team.

In an article published online Thursday in the architecture publication Archinect, Liu discussed the need for large facilities to reorganize into clusters of 10 to 16 residents in compartmentalized suites with their own dining and amenity areas, en-suite laundry and caregivers who stay assigned to specific clusters.

Enhanced sanitary measures including dedicated washing stations, isolation rooms for residents who may be ill and contagious and efficient bi-polar ionization HVAC systems should also be considered for all facilities, he added.

Vivirito noted that the industry also is likely to see long-term changes to visitation practices, including the development of deliberately programmed visitation rooms for families and loved ones.

In one current project, the firm “converted a residential unit into a dedicated area for visitors, separated by a glass wall and with its own HVAC system,” Vivirito told Archinect. “We created an exterior door specifically so the visitor is able to enter the suite directly.”

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