nettletontribe director Bernard Waller provides insight into the future of healthcare design

Bernard Waller Director
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Critical elements of healthcare design

Healthcare facilities involve a complex design process as there are many elements to consider. The overarching principle always starts with a patient-centric approach. In order to deliver peoples’ health services and wellbeing, and therefore the patient’s needs, feelings and dignity should be at the centre.

A health facility must be welcoming, relaxed, clear and simple in its design. We strive to make the complex simple and easy to understand. If people feel relaxed and welcome it naturally follows that their health outcomes and wellbeing are improved.

Future gazing

Technology will play an enormous part in the future changes to healthcare design. It will change models of care and delivery of health services – from access to records, to consultations being able to be done from remote locations – health professionals will be able to access more than ever before.

Evidence-based design and improving health outcomes will lead to better design. Putting the patient at the centre and focusing on their wellbeing will be critical. The provision of light and air in meaningful ways will be essential because we now know that people heal better and faster with both.

Light filled spaces provide an important connection with the outside and give opportunity to bring nature and the environment in. Good design in healthcare strives to give many patient cohorts a direct connection to outside space.

New directions in healthcare design

In recent designs we have provided a paediatric courtyard that triples as an inpatient outdoor play area, a therapy space for outpatients and a teenager retreat, as well as a thing of beauty to look upon for all as you enter the unit; it is so important to provide that kind of environment for children to feel more at ease.

Outdoor courtyards are provided with medical service panels to allow patients in ICU beds to spend time outside. Rehabilitation patients, who may spend months in hospital, have access to outdoor ‘living’ and therapy spaces within their unit. Patients within a close dementia delirium unit have living and outdoor space designed to look more like elements of everyday life; domestic looking doors and veranda, and an herb garden down the garden path. Elements of their everyday life in the hospital.

Hospitals need to have a clear and functional program. The needs for that are self-evident. People are often at their highest levels of stress and can easily be confused and disorientated. We focus on creating environments aimed at minimising the stress and maximising orientation.