HED is pleased to share that Sector Leader Drew Roskos has been named a 2020 EFA Design Champion!
In its third year, Environments For Aging’s (EFA) annual Design Champions awards program recognizes driving change in the senior living industry, specifically individuals who contributed to advancing the industry over the past two years and whose ideas are improving the lives of residents, families, and staff.
Below is an excerpt from his EFA award interview, the full text can be found using the link provided:
Environments for Aging: What does innovation mean to you and how can this industry embrace it?
Drew Roskos: There are two primary ways that I think innovation will help drive success in the senior living industry: The embracement of technology and multidisciplinary perspectives in design approaches. The industry has been slow to incorporate technology solutions, but the coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to adapt, and I believe that current strategies such as contact tracing, electrostatic spraying, and mobile app staffing solutions will continue even after our current pandemic.
Additionally, the best technology-focused solutions are ones that passively help residents and staff and allow for more time on what matters most, the physical and mental well-being of residents, so I anticipate wider acceptance of smart building features and wearable technologies. To create successful communities, we need design solutions that have a multidisciplinary perspective, bringing everyone to the table early in the development process, communicating the perspectives of the stakeholders, and aligning the team’s goals. By communicating early and often, we afford the project team time to translate the goals into an innovative design solution.
EFA: How do you think design can best help residents stay active, engaged, and connected at every stage of life??
Maintaining a well-balanced, active lifestyle is incredibly important for the health and happiness of all people. In particular, the third and fourth stages of life should be full of robust and meaningful experiences, as they sometimes span three or four decades. Being socially engaged and physically active throughout this time can reduce depression and isolation while also enriching the community and the lives of residents. As architects, our design can support this goal by creating spaces that offer flexible programming, social participation, and a connection to nature.
EFA: Why is pursuing your masters in gerontology important to you?
I hope to more deeply connect with residents, staff, and operators. I want to learn and demonstrate commitment to their purpose. Through that connection, I hope to enhance my design capabilities and bring a more holistic and diverse perspective. As designers, we develop ideas about design and construction, but we should also be thinking about where we, as a society, are headed. The diversity of people over age 65 is and will continue to increase, we need design that is inclusive of all cultures, preferences, and experiences.
EFA: How does your design process start with considering the human experience and why is that important is delivering a resident-centered design?
I consider the experiences and relationships of all those who interact with the senior living community: residents, employees, friends and family, and community members. My goal is to honor residents’ identities, their self-expression, and their ideas about culture by weaving design strategies and knowledge about the aging process. As an example, people have a subconscious preference for environmental complexity, and studies have reported that this can promote cognitive performance in older adults.
Appropriate acoustic design in spaces like a large public room in a community is also important. These are ways that design can support the resident’s need, especially as they transition into senior living, at a time when they may feel vulnerable.
EFA: Your prototype for a client functions as a kit of parts and can be replicated nationwide. What’s pushing the approach in terms of design and construction and how can it support the business/development side to the industry?
A prototype can allow a client to replicate parts of communities that lend themselves to operational efficiency. For example, we can hammer out the details of how staff need to work and provide care. For the resident experience, a prototype allows us to fine-tune the details of the program and experiment with design in a meaningful way, such as lighting, connections to the landscape architecture, thermal comfort, technology, dining experiences, and sustainability.
It’s best to think of the prototype as an evolution, rather than an “out of the box” solution. Using this perspective, the priorities can change as the developer and operator evolve their business strategy.
EFA: What’s your vision for what senior living should look like in the future?
My vision for senior living, and housing in general, centers around intergenerational relationships and the belief that cross-generational buildings and neighborhoods foster an environment of engagement. It may seem counterintuitive as we currently shelter in place, but it’s my desire for older adults to be more active in society. We are social beings, and the negative effects of isolation and disengagement have significant impacts on the health and mental well-being of older adults.
Our buildings and neighborhoods need to be more resilient to changes in use, so they can evolve to reflect our changing demographics in the coming decades. I also believe that care models should become more diverse as we address affordability in the coming decades.