Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why Can't ________ Be Better Designed?

I visited an aunt of mine in a nursing home on Sunday. It certainly was no "senior warehouse." There were large birdcages with colorful parakeets, sofas and desks and televisions in rooms set up to look like someone's home, and a large sunroom with windows all around that looked out onto gazebos and off in the distance a forest of trees.

But the resident rooms themselves? Small, hospital-like, lacking in privacy.

This was one of the better places. They have a cap on how many residents they allow, so that the staff can provide better service. They're doing a number of things right. Why hasn't that outlook spread to the residential quarters?

Seth Godin has an interesting question today: Things You Don't Understand. When I read it, I immediately thought "I don't understand why nursing homes aren't better designed." I was going to come up with my own list, like Seth. But then I thought, I haven't written anything in this blog in a while. I'll go with that thought.

I don't have any answers. But as I'm getting older, and relatives are once again aging and dealing with various syndromes, physical problems, and illnesses, I'm feeling that aging process myself. And I'm wondering - even with the birdcages and the nicely-appointed group rooms and the sunroom looking out onto a natural landscape, would I want to spend much of my time in a hospital room, waiting for visitors to show up? What would I do if I wanted to get away, and be alone, and have my own space that I know is mine and I don't have to share?

We have a million programs designed to help us save our cell phone messages. We have one nursing home design.