Much of the focus for modern product design is on how the next generation will embrace a product or concept. Terms like Millennial or Gen Z are thrown around when retailers talk about attracting new customers, and their needs and wants are often at the forefront of how something is designed.

The changing demands of the customer are also at the front of mind for developers of senior living communities. As Americans age, the needs and preferences of those moving into senior living facilities change. The challenge for the modern senior living designer and builder is to anticipate what the next generation will want.

“If you think about our original communities, they were 100 percent independent living,” said Nicolle Blais, chief operating officer for Statesman USA, part of The Statesman Group of Companies. “When we started to see a changing need in our existing resident and incoming resident, we said, lets make some adaptations within the building and let’s offer assisted living. And then, let’s offer memory care and then let’s get creative with some of the lifestyle offerings that we have.

“We’re very adaptable and we try to design the building to give us that flexibility for adaptability as we change our programs along the way.”

Blais leads the Statesman USA team that is currently building the company’s latest senior living community, The Manor Village at Desert Ridge, which is located in the highly sought after North Phoenix submarket, along Deer Valley Dr., west of 56th St.

The Statesman Group has been a developer and builder since 1976, starting in Canada and operating in Arizona for the past 25 years. The company specializes in single-family, multi-family, resort and senior living communities. The Manor Village brand is the company’s senior living component.

The Manor Village at Desert Ridge facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, with independent living residents moving in first. After getting all of its licenses secured, Blais said the facility hopes to begin welcoming assisted living and memory care residents by the summer of 2021.

Blais and the Statesman team is very excited to bring this new community to market and she feels that the company’s reputation might be its biggest selling point. Statesman handles all facets of the planning, development and building of the community, as well as its operations, in house.

The Manor Village at Desert Ridge. (Image by Steelblue)

“We know that in the senior living industry a lot of owners will outsource the operations and the food service and the care, we do everything ourselves,” said Blais. “So, being our own developer, our own general contractor and our own operator, we really focus the time and attention on the design of the communities from an operations perspective, but also from a resident perspective.”

Blais also believes that Statesman’s all-around focus on the community makes it an attractive option for seniors and their families when they are looking for a place to live.

“We’re family-owned and operated, so to our future residents and their families, that’s really important to them. We’re not a merchant-style builder, where we build the building, fill it and then flip it,” Blais said. “You see it many times, senior facilities change hands multiple times, which means new management, fee increases, ect., ect. So, they have peace of mind knowing that it’s family owned and operated, and we’ve been doing it for 25 years and we bring all of that knowledge to this project.

“We put our blood, sweat and tears into this community, and our hearts as well. So I think that is a sure value-add for our future residents.”

The modern senior living facility serves three unique functions for its residents as they age. First, it serves as a new home for seniors who are still active and independent and don’t require any additional care to go about their daily life. Second, it serves as an assisted living facility for seniors who require special care due to physical limitations. And finally, it serves as a place that seniors with cognitive or memory issues can live and receive the kind of care that helps them remain active and aging gracefully.

The challenge for the modern senior living facility is to incorporate all three of those facets into a facility, without losing the sense of it being first and foremost, someone’s home.

“We want it to be graciously appointed, we want it to be beautiful, but it has to be warm and inviting and home-like,” Blais said. “Our owner (Dr. Garth Mann) has been very involved in the design of the Manor Villages, and he’s created magic. Every community has a beautiful, warm, home-like feel.

“You recognize that it’s someone’s home, but it still allows us to function as an operating entity and provide the care and the services, because it’s a balancing act, for sure.”

The Manor Village at Desert Ridge will feature suites that range from 700 square feet up to more than 1,000 square feet for the independent living residents. The Manor Village is not a buy-in community, instead, residents are on month-to-month rental leases and all expenses, from utilities to housekeeping to even a meal plan, are included in the rental price.

The suites will have high-end finishes and full kitchens. The residents will be encouraged to decorate their homes as they wish. The layout of the suite is easy to navigate for the residents, making their day-to-day activities easier as they age.

Outside of the individual suites, the facility will have many community spaces to encourage socialization, a large community dining room, a bistro and general store-like space, as well as a pool, outdoor dining area, rooftop patios, a 50-seat theater and a fireside lounge for enjoying a drink and socializing before or after dinner. The facility will also have underground parking for those residents who are still driving, as well as a 5,000 square foot spa and salon that will offer massages, manicures, pedicures, haircuts and more. Residents will also have access to facilities at the neighboring Montreaux luxury apartment complex, which is also owned and operated by Statesman.

All told, the senior residents at Manor Village will be living at a luxury apartment complex, with all of the amenities that come with it.

“We will have 196 suites, total, with the third floor being independent living, the second floor is assisted living and we will have two neighborhoods of Our Hearts Memory Care on the main floor,” Blais said of the layout.

Another challenge of the modern senior living facility is making sure they have the staff to provide services to the residents, be they independent living, assisted living or memory care resident. Blais said that Statesman puts a lot of time and energy in attracting and retaining the best staff in the industry. They will have a wellness director that is a registered nurse (RN) and the facility will also have at least one Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) on site at all times, sometimes multiple LPNs.

For residents in the memory care communities at Manor Village, there will be a full-time recreation director, a recreation therapist and an activity coordinator. They will also have a part-time musical therapist providing programming for residents.

“We know the impact that music therapy can have on our residents and it’s an important thing for us,” Blais said. “We’re very focused on providing lifestyle enrichment activities within the memory care community. We do regular personalized wellness evaluations and we want to make sure that the care that we’re providing is personalized for that individual.”