Infection prevention and control in clinical settings is challenging enough. What about in long-term care and retirement homes – places that are designed to have communal and open spaces?

Chantal Trudel of Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design is working with investigators from the Bruyère Research Institute and the Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation at Bruyère with nearly $40,000 in funding from the Foundation for Health Environments Research in the United States to study the design of Canadian long-term care homes within the context of the pandemic. The team includes Amy Hsu, Frank Knoefel, Sophie Orosz, Heidi Sveistrup, and Bruce Wallace.

“Good design can and should balance infection prevention and control needs with residents’ quality of life and care needs. No resident wants to see their living space transform from the feeling of home to hospital,” wrote Hsu and Trudel in a recent piece on designing the future of long-term care and retirement homes.

Environmental design could be impeding health care workers from safely completing their tasks. The team will be studying how to address the problem of workers being both cautious and efficient, while respecting the comfort and homeliness of the spaces. The study’s first phase will aim to create design and infection prevention plans for participating homes to prevent future respiratory or COVID-19 outbreaks.