Hospital design is rarely their chief concern for many patients when seeking treatment. However, the design of a healthcare clinic or hospital facility often has hidden benefits that can improve recovery and enhance the overall level of care they receive. Below, we explore some of the most overlooked aspects of hospital design and why they’re essential to patient health and staff morale.
Safeguarding Patient Safety
How a hospital is designed can significantly impact patient safety. A flexible approach is often a good idea, allowing hospital facilitators to accommodate changing patient needs. Single-occupancy rooms are also essential in larger facilities. These spaces provide privacy for at-risk patients and are also useful for infection control purposes.
Adaptable spaces allow healthcare professionals to be flexible in treating patients. Continuity of care improves recovery rates, and versatile space can facilitate this. In addition, reconfiguring a room to accommodate a change in treatment is often preferable to transferring an individual to a new department. This approach also alleviates administration pressures on clinicians and hospital staff.
Good Hospital Design Reassures Patients
A good healthcare facility should instill confidence in patients and their loved ones. Thoughtful design improves things like accessibility and reassures patients that they are placed in the best facility to receive the care they need.
Basic aesthetics can go a long way in boosting confidence levels in patients. Well-lit interiors and contemporary furnishings make a great impression on patients, but the actual utilization of a space is essential. The floor plans of assessment rooms, waiting areas, and patient wards should all be carefully considered to ensure you’re making effective use of available square footage.
Soundproofing is a commonly overlooked aspect of hospital design. Poorly soundproofed rooms will lead to significant noise levels, especially in busier facilities. Loud noises aren’t just distracting; they can also give the impression that hospitals are overstressed and poorly managed.
Effective Use of Signage
Signage is a vital design aspect of any hospital. Even patients dealing with minor ailments find visiting a hospital a stressful experience. Easy-to-read signage can help alleviate that stress and streamline their journey.
Visible signs are also vital for visitors. Most hospitals and healthcare facilities are strict when it comes to visiting hours. Strategically positioned signage ensures visitors waste little time finding their destinations.
In larger hospitals with multiple departments, the need for signage is even more crucial. Utilizing partitions and windows to provide patients and visitors with straightforward directories and directions is certainly worthwhile.
Improving Staff Productivity
The well-thought-out design does more than improve patient confidence. Considered interiors can also improve staff productivity and boost the morale of a workforce.
When it comes to designing a workspace conducive to productivity, there’s a lot to think about. But, of course, workstations should be addressed first. Although the average clinician won’t be spending as many hours at a desk as the average office worker, ergonomic seating and desks are a must. Adjustable seating is also crucial for shared workstations and hospitals embracing a hot desk approach.
To improve staff morale, hospitals also need to incorporate comfortable break areas—many facilities with limited square footage struggle to provide staff with sufficient space to enjoy breaks and mealtimes. However, outdoor areas can be easily adapted to fulfill this essential requirement.
It’s also vital that visiting professionals are allocated designated workspaces. These areas should be set apart from offices and shared workstations utilized by full-time staff and accessible enough to promote interaction between full-time employees and outside personnel.
Evacuations and Emergencies
Although full-scale evacuations are rare events, they need to be anticipated when designing hospital environments. In a fire, evacuation of a hospital isn’t as simple as vacating the premises. Moving immobile patients from high-dependency units requires considerable planning and effort, while critical care equipment often needs to be transported alongside patients.
A well-designed hospital should include wide corridors that allow for unrestricted movement in an emergency or an evacuation of hospital premises. Emergency lighting systems are also requisites. Flooring choices are also important. Anti-slip surfaces will prevent accidents and minimize discomfort for bed-bound patients and wheelchair users when carrying out unprecedented evacuations.
Structural design should also consider adverse weather and natural disasters and safeguard against the impact of things like terrorist attacks. Hospitals constructed in regions at risk from significant weather events are better placed at elevations, protecting them against storm surges and floodwaters. Sufficient structural planning can often negate the need for full-scale evacuations, even if some portions of a hospital have suffered considerable damage.
Promote Faster Healing and Recovery
A well-designed hospital can help alleviate stress levels and encourage faster patient recovery rates. As a result, many newly built hospitals have embraced the concept of biophilic design, incorporating natural materials and design elements inspired by nature. As a result, hospital interiors are instantly transformed using natural materials and nature-inspired color palettes.
This design approach is critical if recovering patients suffer from limited mobility and can’t easily be moved outside. Even placing beds near large windows to increase exposure to sunlight can benefit.
Why Healthcare Providers Should Invest in Hospital Design
When creating hospitals from the ground up, it’s tempting to overlook the importance of design and focus squarely on expensive equipment. Yet, while cutting-edge medical equipment is essential, superficial aesthetics and interior design choices bring numerous benefits for patients and healthcare providers alike.
A well-designed hospital can safeguard patients and healthcare professionals in an emergency, minimizing disruption in the event of an emergency or evacuation. Bright interiors and welcoming aesthetics can also help reassure patients when they arrive for surgery or life-changing medical interventions.
Natural materials and biophilic design elements can also aid in recovery and encourage a sense of well-being. Thoughtful design isn’t just for the benefit of patients. A well-designed hospital can also boost staff morale and improve productivity levels, minimize staff turnover, and improve the healthcare facilities’ level of care.
Zoe Dromgoole is the Marketing Executive at Wood Flooring Ireland. Wood Flooring Ireland sells bespoke engineered wood flooring such as herringbone flooring. Wood Flooring Ireland needs to consider the designs and styles of their clients before making and laying flooring.