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Designing For Special Needs

During the past 25 years our firm has designed over 200 residential projects to accommodate the special needs of our clients. We have learned much in the process and also enjoyed great satisfaction from the results. Some families have become lifelong friends. We have worked with clients within a wide range of needs, including spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spinal bifida, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease and various forms of dementia. The list continues to expand each year.

Families span several generations, with each generation in a home the complexities of each individual’s needs increase. Our firm is equipped to deal with the medical and design needs of multiple members of a household.

In the simple terms designing a residence involves providing shelter, comfort and accommodation. Accommodation is specific to each client and their own needs. Special needs can be a single issue or come as a combinations resulting from a birth defect, injury, accident or simply the aging process. In some cases such as an auto accident or medical malpractice there may be a source of money devoted to providing the designed environment. Yet in many cases the challenge is for the immediate or extended family to provide the financial resources.

In the realm of residential design for special needs we benefit from a crossover of products developed originally for use with cell phones and computer screens then adapted to acute and long-term healthcare facilities. For example silver is a known and highly effective antimicrobial agent, which inhibits the growth of microorganisms, pathogens and bacteria such as E. coli and Staph. It also suppresses the growth of molds, mildew and fungus. Products of special interest to us are the fabrics and finishes that help control infections. This silver ion technology can be embedded into wood finishes on furniture as just one example.

A similar use of the metal copper is available in the form of copper oxide. It is a broad form biocidal and useful in controlling the spread of infections. It can be embedded into counter-tops, sinks, linens, bed rails, over-the-bed tables and other hard surface products. In textile fabrics it is polymerized into the nylon and polyester fibers before woven into a finished product. It is therefore distributed throughout the product and is high effective. Infection is the most common complication during healthcare, costing lives and adding significantly to the monetary expense of healthcare.

Incorporating these technologies into family home-based healthcare can be a major factor to improve the quality of special needs care in the future. 

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