Healthcare L Iowa

Aging population means more work for commercial pros

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Renovating a nursing home isn't the easiest task. Just ask Doug Wells, principal of Des Moines-based architecture firm <a href="http://www.a-wks.com/home.php">Wells + Associates</a>.

Renovating a nursing home isn't the easiest task. Just ask Doug Wells, principal of Des Moines-based architecture firm Wells + Associates.

Wells' firm designed the $4 million renovation of St. Francis Manor, a continuing care retirement community in Grinnell, Iowa. The renovation, for which construction crews broke ground in December of last year, will include the renovation of all resident rooms, a new dining area and kitchen, expanded visting areas and a 3,200-square-foot office addition.

Plans also call for a complete renovation of the facilty's social center and update space for physical therapy programs.

The biggest challenge lies in pleasing both staffers at the facility and its residents, Wells said. And that's something that required a lot of close communication throughout the design process.

"We had a lot of conversations with the staff to see how they did their jobs," Wells said. "We had to understand what they needed to best be able to care for the residents. We wanted to design spaces that allowed staff members to do the best job they could in taking care of the residents."

Such work is important in today's commercial real estate business. While many sectors of the industry continue to struggle in today's slow economy, healthcare facilities and, especially, senior continuing care centers continue to be in high demand.

There's one big reason for this: The U.S. population is getting older. People need more medical attention. Facilities such as St. Francis Manor provide it.