By our Head of Story, Leah Sarich (March 2021)
Walking into the Garden Loft from the Thin Air Labs office space is like moving through a portal to another world… a world that’s cozy, domestic and charming.
But incorporated into that warm living space is an extraordinary amount of functionality that allows for older adults to live independently, safely and with dignity for a longer period of time.
For seniors who want to live at home but require some assistance and aren’t yet ready for long term care, the Garden Loft is an ideal solution.
“Garden Loft is a multi-functional portable living space that you can put in your backyard, and you can use it for many purposes, specifically for your aging parents so they don’t have to go live in a nursing home,” explains John Brown, Co-Founder of Garden Loft and Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary.
The Garden Loft prototype was built in the Thin Air Labs office space because Garden Loft is a division of FABhome, one of our portfolio companies, and John and his team wanted to be able to show clients the units but also needed to test the individualized physical, cognitive and daily living supports incorporated into this new, consumer unit.
These supports include a compliant floor that reduces injury from a fall by 43 percent,
full wheelchair accessibility, a zero step shower, continuous grab rails integrated into the cabinetry, motion-detected strip lighting, a self-toileting water closet, an electric adjustable bed and much more… all designed to appear beautiful, not medical.
And unique to these units is the incorporation of FABtech.
“FABtech is an all in one system that’s able to be used by seniors. The system works off a tablet, like a TV remote, and controls the TV but it also provides an interface where they can talk to their family and caregivers through the TV with a video chat feature,” says Matthew North, Co-Founder, Garden Loft. “The app is also designed so seniors can do activities through it like yoga or join a bridge club plus it can be used to call for help and assistance. It’s all done through one app.”
Matthew recently tested this application at a care facility in Calgary with six seniors ranging in age from 65 to 95 and deemed the trial a success.
“All six seniors had some degree of disability, half were in a wheelchair, several with motor control issues. All of the participants could read the app menu, understood without explanation what the buttons did and were able to use them.”
Matthew and the team have big aspirations for FABtech. They want to collect data from numerous users to inform further innovations to the technology, they hope to connect residents in the Garden Lofts to create a community of Lofters and ultimately they’d like to see FABtech incorporated into long term care facilities everywhere.
The Garden Lofts are available in three sizes: 380, 480 and 580 square feet.
The two smaller ones can be craned into a backyard over a two-storey house, the largest requires a back lane for delivery. The Lofts start at $190,000.
"...the Lofts, because they’re adaptable, have the potential to be used for more than just senior living." --- Carina van Olm, Co-Founder, Garden Loft
Carina van Olm, the third Co-Founder of Garden Loft, says the Lofts, because they’re adaptable, have the potential to be used for more than just senior living. In fact, she has clients who are buying the Lofts now to use for an office space during the pandemic, with plans to convert it to a suite for their teenager and eventually as a home for their aging parent. Carina explains that Garden Loft can also be relocated to a lake or another family with a loved one in need of support to live on their own.
Whatever the use, the Garden Loft is a beautiful space, designed to facilitate independent living with dignity and grace.
To tour the showsuite at Thin Air Labs, or to learn more about Garden Loft visit their website.