An article in The Conversation draws our attention to the need to have separate waiting rooms, specifically designed for indigenous patients. This is because they often leave emergency rooms without receiving treatment. But does that mean non-indigenous patients feel comfortable in waiting rooms? Probably not – we all feel uncomfortable and anxious in hospitals. We need hospitals with healing design.
The title of the article is, Making space: how designing hospitals for Indigenous people might benefit everyone. The article explains design features to improve hospital design. The research is by Timothy O’Rourke and Daphne Nash from University of Queensland.
Although the article doesn’t mention universal design specifically, cross cultural awareness to create inclusive spaces and places is synonymous with universal design. There are links to other resources in the article.
Hospital design and dementia
The Dementia Enabling Environment Virtual Information Centre has a section on the design of hospitals. This interactive web tool shows a layout of a typical section of a hospital. Clicking on each room takes you to another page which is illustrated with Before and After features. A slide bar takes you between the Before and After illustrations. Design ideas for the staff station, bed area, patient or family lounge and reception area show how a few tweaks can make the place more dementia friendly. For a more in-depth guide see the guide from Ireland on using a universal design approach.
Patients at the centre of hospital design.
No-one wants to go to hospital, either as a patient or a visitor. This is especially the case in hospital wards where children are very unwell. Putting families and patients at the centre of hospital design makes for a more welcoming place.
An article in FastCompany tells how a design committee made up of families of patients acted as an advisory group. Parents whose babies and children experienced long-term hospital stays were consulted. Useful information emerged such as the distance to bathrooms and the lack of privacy for dying children.
The feedback was instrumental in guiding the final design. For example, the devastating experience of watching child die in an open ICU bay led to having only private rooms. Doctors’ experiences with over-stimulated children guided colour and lighting choices. Natural light and access to outdoor spaces were also essential.
The end result was not perfect, but the participatory design process made the hospital a better place. Clinical staff also informed the design process and made them think about the way they deliver care.
The article is titled, See inside a hospital designed by patients, and has several highlight the design ideas.
A related article is the presentation by Stefano Scalzo at UD2021 Conference.