Thought Leadership

PHS brings refreshed commitment, approach to renovations



Aging is natural. Looking “dated” is not. That’s why Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) is tripling its renovation funding for senior living communities in 2023 and has restructured its renovation processes.

renovated apartmentPHS’ commitment to renovation is consistent with its mission to enrich the lives of older adults as well as a demonstration of a core value – stewardship.

A holistic approach

“We are reinvesting in our communities and pairing holistic renovations — interiors, exteriors, roofing, landscaping and more — with multiple capital sources to make that happen,” says David Millett, vice president of facilities management.

Dustin Sayre, director of renovations, says PHS moved its interior design function into the facilities management group to strengthen its renovation efforts. The move linked the organization’s design and engineering functions, allowing for more holistic renovations. It also enabled the team to draw from both renovation capital and engineering capital when updating PHS campuses.

“We want to have complete and holistic renovations,” says David. “If we’re going to do it, we will do our best to update everything that needs to be done.” That may include building exteriors — such as siding, lighting, roofing and windows — as well as interiors.

Renovations affect common areas and private apartments

staff at PHS
Top, from left: Dustin Sayer, David Millett and Paul Duncan. Bottom, from left: Carla Gatto, Hannah Ferdelman and Laura Leuschen.

Dustin says that two types of renovations take place within PHS communities. One focuses on common areas — lobbies, dining areas, wellness centers, club lounges, libraries and more — while the other focuses on resident apartments.

Apartment renovations most often include replacing kitchen cabinets, countertops, appliances, light fixtures, window treatments, bathroom vanities, bathroom accessories and, in some instances, kitchen and bathroom floors.

PHS makes every effort for residents to remain in their apartments while work is being done around them. When this isn’t possible, due to safety or functionality, PHS arranges for temporary housing in another apartment or nearby hotel.

The pandemic’s adverse impact

Over the past 15 years, PHS has renovated one to two campuses per year. With the onset of the pandemic, however, renovation work largely ground to a halt.

“During the pandemic,” says David, “communities shut down and everything related to renovation changed. We are still dealing with short-cycle budgeting and financial barriers, but we are allocating significant major capital into renovations with a plan to try to catch up over the next 10 to 15 years.”

As one might imagine, inflation greatly complicates renovation efforts. “Prices have increased 10 to 30 percent from just a year ago,” notes Dustin. Still, PHS strives to exercise good stewardship, so that residents enjoy fresh cozy living spaces while PHS limits costs connected to renovation efforts.

How renovations are prioritized

PHS prioritizes renovation work based on six key factors:  age of plant (building); condition of building (some buildings naturally “wear” better than others); market competition; census trends (is occupancy increasing, stable or decreasing); other capital work being done; and additions, expansions or redevelopment work by Senior Housing Partners, the PHS development arm.

PHS’ five-person renovations team brings design, procurement and project management expertise to every renovation project, all under the facilities management umbrella. This allows the team to not only enjoy close relationships with site leaders, but also with regional engineering teams and other facilities-related experts.

Dustin notes that many senior living communities run by competitors are “on their own” in terms of determining the renovations that need to be addressed. That can create both economic inefficiencies as well as a “hodgepodge” of inconsistent design throughout the community.

“Our goal is to provide our residents with updated and comfortable environments in a sustainable manner,” David concludes.

PHS campuses are looking brighter and fresher as a result.

Interested in learning more? Find a PHS community near you and schedule a tour today at!



Get news, stories and updates weekly on PHS communities, residents and employees, plus resourceful information on living well!

More stories