One Community’s Evolution in Senior Dining Options

By Andy McLeod
Senior Living

Provide the dining options baby boomers desire

Dining in senior living has come a long way in recent years. In fact, dining has emerged as one of the top trends that communities are pursing to improve customer satisfaction and to attract new prospects. As the baby boomers start entering into the senior living environment, they are bringing with them the desire to maintain their current lifestyle. Successful facilities are responding by offering healthy delicious food choices and a variety of dining options.

We are working with one innovative community who is responding to this trend. Heather Hills in Grand Rapids, Michigan is a vibrant community that offers intermixed independent and assisted living. In order to stay competitive in the industry, their strategic plan included renovation of common space to incorporate the elements that perspective residents’ desire.


Our planning began with the development of our guiding principles. They were:

Relevance – There are a lot of senior living options in the Grand Rapids area. They needed an updated space that still feels like home. When families walk in, they want them to say, “I want my mom to live here.”

Lasting Quality – Think about how current and future residents will use the space. Select quality materials that will last and not show wear and tear easily.

Culture – Create spaces that compliment a wide variety of activities driven and enjoyed by staff, residents, and the community. When entering the building, visitors should see the residents and the activities going on. Activity is the key to resident wellness. Make the new space a reflection of the current, amazing culture.

The renovation plan includes several amazing transformations, but the dining options will certainly be on top of the list. Their future dining options will include:

  • Casual dining – Think “sports bar meets country club.”
  • Café / Grab ‘n go – This will be a large bar serving soups, sandwiches, salads, coffee and other beverages. 
  • Formal dining – This option will be similar to their current dining option, but the environment will be updated to experience hospitality in lieu of institution.
Andy McLeod, AIA, LEED AP, EDAC,CDP

Andy McLeod brings more than a dozen years of senior living design experience to the team as our Senior Living Practice Leader. He has a driving passion to see residential settings for seniors transformed into spaces that feel like home. Andy has even taken the unusual step of becoming a Certified Dementia Practitioner to better understand how design can positively impact adults with memory loss.