Creating children’s wards that are better for everyone
When you think of children’s wards, what do you see? The chances are its bright colours, walls filled with characters from films and TV shows and playrooms full of toys and games.
For a long time now, children’s wards have been adorned with bright colours and cheery decoration to try and make somewhere unfamiliar feel a little less scary. Whilst it’s done with the best of intentions, sometimes it can make environments just that little bit too busy, causing young patients to become even more stressed by everything that’s going on around them. In turn, this makes the situation more stressful for both parents and the nursing staff who are responsible for their care.
When we redesign children’s wards, our focus is always on improving a patients’ journey back to health but to do this, we also need to improve them in a way that benefits the people who are supporting them on that journey. We know that busy environments can be stressful for parents too and if children can sense that Mum and Dad are stressed, it will often be reflected in their own feelings and behaviours. For nursing staff, a combination of overanxious patients and overly stressed parents can make the job of providing care all that much harder.
We have a wealth of experience and expertise when it comes to creating spaces that benefit everyone who uses them, something that’s particularly important when it comes to children’s wards.
Addressing the needs of different areas
It’s easy to forget that a children’s ward is often made up of many different areas, not just bed bays. Each part of a ward is intended to be used in a different way and so need to be designed carefully, to support its intended function.
One place that’s often overlooked when it comes to making hospitals better is corridors and walkways. First impressions count and it’s often the first part of your department that visitors to a ward will see. So why is it that, more often than not, they’re comprised of bare, beige walls and adorned with hastily printed signage?
When we’re transforming wards as a whole, we often use WallGlamour to create more inspirational wayfinding solutions in walkways. By transforming the look and feel of hospital corridors and making them more welcoming spaces, patients are more likely to arrive at the start of their journey back to health feeling confident and reassured about their treatment.
Just like arriving at hospital, waiting for treatment itself can be an anxious experience too.
When we were designing the children’s waiting area in Kingston Hospital, we wanted to use imagery that gave the patients and their parents using the space something positive to focus on, taking their mind off their treatment even if just for a short time. Using the beachfront was the perfect solution; the blues and greens are calming, reassuring colours and who wouldn’t want to imagine lying on the beach under the sun? We certainly did!
Colour psychology plays an important part in every single one of our ward designs. The bright, primary colours that often adorn the walls of children’s wards are chosen to help patients feel less intimidated by their new environment but can end up leaving them feeling stressed instead as a result of being visually overstimulated. By avoiding vivid colours and instead focusing on those such as the greens and blues we used in Kingston, we’re able to create environments that are calming and reassuring, putting both patients and parents at ease.
Better hospital design doesn’t just make a difference to the way patients feel when they arrive, it can also transform the way that patients respond to treatment. Research shows that a more positive environment can help improve patient outcomes. With this in mind, we consciously design treatment rooms and other clinical areas to feel less clinical and to relax and reassure those receiving care. We do this by incorporating important elements like colour psychology into intentional designs or even by using specialist features to distract them from the treatment process itself.
One of the ways we do this is through the Usborne ‘1001 Things to Spot’ series. Through a special agreement with the children’s publisher Usborne that allows us to bring some of their brilliant artwork to life within hospitals. These images brighten up otherwise boring spaces but also play a very important role in providing a distraction for young patients, giving them something other than their treatment to focus on. Helping children take their mind off treatment reduces the risk of them becoming overly stressed, making the job of nursing staff easier and helping parents remain a little calmer too
One area of children’s wards that are key to provide a sense of normality is play areas and playrooms. We work closely with health play specialists when designing and refurbishing these important areas to make sure that we create environments that support them in fulfilling their roles and help children relax whilst engaging in play.
We recently partnered with Momentum Charity to redesign Kingston Hospital’s playroom. The existing space was cluttered with toys, games and furniture and felt run down and tired. With so much going on visually, It had become a stressful environment for the young patients using it, making the job of the hospital’s play specialists more difficult.
Our team worked with ward users to design a space that could easily be kept free of clutter to reduce the risk of stress in patients and help play specialists fulfil their roles. We installed specially designed storage units complete with bespoke internal fittings to help keep the room clear of clutter and used WallGlamour to introduce a carefully considered colour scheme designed to reassure and calm young patients using the space.
We know that, just like with adult patients, when young people are receiving treatment in hospital, their environment can play a big part in how smoothly their journey back to health goes. There’s now more research than ever before telling us just how important a positive hospital environment can be, not just for them but for their parents and caregivers too.
We believe better places to get better should be the standard for hospitals everywhere, not the exception to the rule and we want to be able to help young patients feel confident, comfortable and reassured from the moment they arrive on your ward.
To find out how we can make your hospital a better place for them, for parents to support their children and for nurses to provide the best care possible, get in touch today.