Canadian Consulting Engineer

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Jacobs supports study of post-pandemic LTC architecture

Buildings COVID-19 Updates architecture buildings COVID-19 Editor Pick health care infection control Jacobs long-term care LTC OAA U of T University of Toronto

The report suggests design guidelines to enhance infection control.

LTC facility

Photo courtesy U of T.

The University of Toronto’s (U of T’s) centre for design and health innovation has published ‘Reimagining Long-Term Care Architecture in Post-Pandemic Ontario—and Beyond,’ a comprehensive study co-sponsored by consulting engineering firm Jacobs Canada and the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA).

As the title suggests, the new report explores how the built environment could better support long-term care (LTC) communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a disproportionate impact on people living and working in LTC facilities, exposing many structural vulnerabilities. The study’s author, Stephen Verderber of U of T’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, emphasizes the urgency to re-examine Ontario’s approach to refurbishing existing homes and building new ones.

“The vulnerabilities within Ontario’s LTC homes that led to the rapid spread of COVID-19 developed over several decades,” he says. “We applaud the government’s commitment to adding desperately needed capacity to the sector. However, success cannot be measured solely by the number of additional beds being provided.”

“This research could not have come at a better time.” – OAA president Susan Speigel

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With that in mind, the report outlines the need to update standards and design guidelines to enhance infection control, with best practices aligned with modern clinical approaches for LTC residents with physical and/or cognitive impairments. Efforts to ensure resident safety during the pandemic unintentionally increased isolation and reduced mobility.

“The built environment must be considered as important a parameter of care as any other medical intervention,” says Dr. Diana Anderson, an architect and geriatrician with Jacobs Canada. “I hope the government of Ontario takes this opportunity to move beyond bricks-and-mortar solutions to considering data-driven design ideas identified in the study.”

“This research could not have come at a better time,” says OAA president Susan Speigel. “We’ve known for a long time there were issues within Ontario’s LTC sector, but this is one of the first times we’ve been able to take a comprehensive look at the situation and begin identifying practical, evidence-based solutions.”

To read the study, click here.

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