When we’re planning and designing how we’re going to make a hospital better, patients are often at the centre of our focus; they’re the people who need to benefit most from being there, after all. But as well as creating a place that is better for them, we know how important it is to consider other ward users in our designs too.
Nurses often spend long shifts helping patients get better and, other than the patients themselves, are usually the people who spend the most time on a ward. When we’re redesigning spaces within hospitals, we think it’s important that we create an environment that supports those on their journey back to health and supports the nursing staff that are caring for them too.
But how does a better healthcare environment benefit the people within it?
While it’s easy to see how a better hospital environment is beneficial for patients, there are some less obvious, but just as important, benefits for nursing staff.
Mess creates stress
Much like a messy desk in an office, a hospital ward with equipment that has been left in corridors, rather than being stored correctly, or walls that are filled with signs and notices that perhaps don’t need to be there, can create visual stressors. The more cluttered an environment is, the more stressful it can be to work in and then, to make matters worse, that stress becomes even greater when you need to actually find something! Sound familiar?
By using WallGlamour to create focused information points, wards can be rid of one of the biggest culprits when it comes to visual stressors: wall clutter! Installations can help to curb people’s enthusiasm for placing notices wherever they spot a space on a wall and we can even incorporate noticeboard areas so that when notices do need to be displayed, they are displayed in a more considered way.
Less stressed patients, less stressed nurses
Nurses do some of the most challenging jobs in the world, there’s no doubt about it, but when the patients they’re caring for are stressed by their surroundings, their job becomes that much harder. Of course, patients who need to be in hospital are naturally going to be anxious but creating an environment that is supportive rather than stressful can provide a little bit of comfort at a time when they need it the most.
Calmer, less stressed patients often respond more positively to treatment, meaning they’re also more responsive to, and cooperative with, the nursing staff who are responsible for treating them. In turn, this makes the nurses’ jobs that little bit easier.
Let’s be totally honest, nobody wants to find themselves staying in hospital, do they? Despite this, most of us will find ourselves spending time as an inpatient at some point in our lives or supporting someone close to us who is unwell.
There’s an ever growing body of research supporting the benefits that a better hospital environment can have on the wellbeing of patients and some studies have even shown that a better environment to get better in actually promotes a better response to treatment.
The benefits for younger patients
The youngest patients in a hospital are often some of the most anxious. They’ve found themselves surrounded by strangers, in an unfamiliar place and they know Mum and Dad are worried about something. In fact, parents are often even more anxious than their children and, when the children pick up on this, it makes them more stressed too. Couple this with them feeling unwell and it’s no wonder they end up feeling a little bit lost and scared.
When it comes to creating spaces for young patients, we know that as well as designing an environment that is supportive to their needs, we need to consider the needs of their parents too. Colour psychology lays a big part in in this. Traditionally, children’s wards are filled with bright, primary colours to make them more inviting but, in reality, it can actually make them more intimidating and overstimulating. Think about the colour red, for instance. It’s often associated with warnings of danger; is this really something that you want the children or parents on your ward to be thinking about?
By calming the colour palette and using more muted tones like blues and greens, we are able to create a more reassuring environment for worried parents, helping them to feel calmer and, in turn, helping the young patients on the ward feel calmer too.
The benefits for older patients
As well as benefiting patients in general, better ward design has some specific and increasingly important benefits for older patients too, particularly those who are suffering from dementia and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.
As more and more research is carried out into how to best look after those who are affected, more evidence is coming to light on how the environment in which they are treated can have a positive effect on their quality of life.
Avoiding visual clutter, using more tranquil colours and incorporating calming, familiar images into artwork are just some of the ways that considered design can help an environment feel more welcoming and less clinical for the vulnerable patients who are being treated within it.
Hospitals are busy places and are filled with people who all have a different reason for being there. One of the most important considerations for us when we’re redesigning wards is that our designs are inclusive and beneficial for everyone. We believe that everybody should feel comfortable and supported as soon as they step into a healthcare environment, whether they’re there to get better, providing care for those who need to be there or simply supporting a loved one.
This month marks our 10th birthday and to celebrate 10 years of making hospitals better, we’re giving away 10 WallGlamour installations for you to transform your ward or waiting area, treatments room or corridor, or wherever else you think needs a bit of brightening up. To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is subscribe to our newsletter on our homepage by 30 June.