MySeniorCenter Fun Facts

Monday, April 1st, 2024

Although the actual line from the movie Field of Dreams is "If you build it, he will come" referring to Ray's father (we think), we're going to lean into the popular misquote of "If you build it, THEY will come." It fits the focus of this month's topic better, and that's all there is to it :-)

Late last year, we asked you to complete a survey about the physical attributes of your building so we could use that information in Fun Facts throughout 2024. In the February issue we captured the high-level results. This month we're focusing on Centers that have been in their current location for less than 15 years. We'll highlight changes in average daily attendance as a result of their move.

We're honored to have input this month from Doug Gallow of Lifespan Design Studio. Over the past 20 years, Doug has been involved in creating some of the most beautiful Senior Centers in the world.

Let's have a look.

Welcome to...Fun Facts - the
If you build it, they will come


Put Me In Coach

While the majority of Centers included in this issue are in their new location because it was recently constructed, there are some that moved into an existing building and it was just new to them.

The first chart shows the percent increase of average daily visitors experienced by Centers in a new location. We used the same cohorts as the survey. For Centers that were Brand New, 2-4 years old, 5-9 years old, and 10-14 years old, we gathered average daily attendance from all previous years and compared it to their first year after the move. We adjusted for Centers that were new during COVID years by comparing their numbers to the larger Network.

Overall, Centers experienced, on average, a 23% increase in daily visitors when they moved into a new location. Even more exciting is that the growth has been sustained in subsequent years. There's no drop-off after the year one thrill.

Glory Days

We know that Centers come in all shapes and sizes, but the 'new location' effect is real no matter the size. In the chart below, we see there are variations based on the amount of square feet, but most of the differences are fairly minor. The exception is Centers that have 20,000 - 29,999 square feet. They have an impressive 31% daily visitor growth when they move into a new location.

Dogs With Mustard and Relish

The reasons for funding the construction of a new Senior Center are varied. Improving access to healthy meals can be one of them. We wanted to know how congregate meal participation changed when a new Center was built. It's reasonable to assume that a renovation that impacts the kitchen and/or dining room would have the same effect.

The majority of new Centers serve a congregate meal. In fact, the percentage that serves lunch is almost exactly the same as the full Network rate. Lunch participation for new Centers was up roughly 28% from before their move. We also compared congregate totals at new Centers vs. totals at any Center that has been in its current location for more than 15 years:

More people go to lunch at the newer Centers.

More Thoughts from Doug

Here's a picture of the wide automatic doors with the walk-off carpeting mentioned on the left in the Dao of Doug section. Click on the image for a larger view.

In the staircase photo below, the stairs have 6" risers (7" is normal) and 12" tread (11" is normal). There's also an extra handrail. Treads and risers are different colors to make the stairs safer.

The final photo shows an auditorium with very wide aisles. Each person would only have to pass a maximum of three other seats to get to theirs. Click on any of the photos to get a larger view.

Thank you, Doug! Your designs are beautiful AND functional.