Alanna Carter, LEED AP
Alanna Carter, LEED AP

Up Close: Alanna Carter

Alanna Carter, LEED AP


What changes are driving design for aging?

Life expectancy is increasing, which increases the senior market base as boomers begin to retire and their parents begin to require more skilled care.

Yet people are delaying moving into senior housing. The parents of boomers do not want to give up their homes; they want to remain independent as long as possible with aging-at-home services. As a result, the average age for people moving into senior housing or skilled nursing communities is into their late 80s. When they do move, their medical needs are more complex and the facilities must be designed to support those increased medical needs.

Meanwhile, boomers are eager to downsize in retirement, yet their long-term care needs are challenging due to changing family lifestyles. Retired boomers are more likely to be single because of divorce, and adult children are less likely to be care providers than previous generations due to long-distance living and double-income household responsibilities. This creates a need for more licensed caregivers and a greater variety of community choices as people move through the aging process.

What are the biggest challenges your clients face?

Staff shortages are placing greater pressure on healthcare and senior care organizations just as the aging population is increasing and the need for senior care services is growing. Additionally, changes in reimbursement standards are impacting the industry as providers identify opportunities to reduce costs, increase profit margins, and promote quality services.

How can you help healthcare organizations address these challenges?

To succeed, healthcare organizations need to diagram their current operations, chart demographic changes, and develop a road map that capitalizes on growth potential. This may include reevaluating their existing facilities to determine appropriate upgrades, building new facilities to meet targeted acuity levels, and partnering with other healthcare organizations to provide a continuum of care.

By applying data-driven Lean strategies and Six Sigma tools to the facility planning process, facility owners can offset staff shortages to improve operational processes and care delivery. This Lean approach is less about the facility and more about how to solve complex economic pressures and staffing issues. The opportunity for owners is to leverage architecture and quality services to attract and retain top talent.