In our last edition of TMI-Spy Health we reported on several examples of the environment being used to positively enhance a patient’s experience. Research has consistently endorsed this. Most recently, a new study by University of Chicago has found that living on a street with 10 or more trees than average makes you feel as healthy as if you were seven years younger. So it certainly does pay to be green.
We are definitely seeing an increasing prevalence of green space included as part of the hospital environment. A great example of a ‘green’ hospital is located in Changsha, China. The Fifth Xiangya Hospital is being built right next to the large Xianguling Park. The hospital is connected to the park both physically and visually. This hospital in a garden concept is achieved by integrating the major spaces into a network of open gardens, private courtyards and natural lighting. Some areas are completely enclosed in glass surrounded by flowers trees and ponds so you always get the feeling that you are surrounded by nature.
Bridgepoint Health Care Centre in Toronto, Canada goes even further by ensuring that every single patient gets window space. The 462 bed facility which was created under a private-public partnership was designed around the idea of ‘connection’. They didn’t want patients to feel isolated so people can see both a park and a vibrant neighbourhood. This is particularly important because it is a place for those who have undergone some sort of medical trauma like a stroke or accident and spend an average of 90 days. There are also large open glass staircases encouraging people to walk – for a bit more exercise – so important as part of a patient’s recovery after a long illness. The designers also deliberately integrated lots of gathering places throughout the facility to avoid any sense of isolation.
Some of the best examples of great hospital environments are children’s hospitals. We have previously reported on the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, USA and in this edition, one hospital that really caught our eye was the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in South Brisbane, Australia - deserving winners of the John Dalton Award for Building of the Year at the 2015 Brisbane Architecture Awards. According to the designers, the hospital is built around the metaphor of a living tree with atria as trunks and spaces as branches.
One look at some of the breath-taking designs shows how the environment very effectively distracts users from the intended functional purpose for their visit.
Not every hospital can afford to reconfigure their space on the scale of Fifth Xiangya, Bridgepoint Healthcare and Lady Cilento. The Royal London Children’s Hospital, run by Barts Health NHS Trust, shows us what can be achieved with a little imagination. The Royal London is one of the leading children’s hospitals in the UK and cares for over 40,000 children each year. Barts Health’s arts organisation, Vital Arts, commissioned designers to transform the walls of the wards with art to create a less intimidating physical place. Examples included one artist covering a world with patterns and words inspired from a visit to India. Another designer created a rural scene which encouraged patients to add to it by stamping patterns.
Each room on another ward was given a different animal character rather than a number and the wards of paediatric critical care were brought to life with detailed images containing animals and other elements for children to discover.
Increasingly due to costs and rising expectations when it comes to access and convenience, health care providers are looking for more creative and unusual environments to offer a service. This can mean offering spaces where would-be consumers are most likely to be. One example of this is Dutch healthcare provider CareToGo who have set up a walk-in clinic at the busy Central Station in the Hague. Patients pay a small walk-in fee which works out at approximately £25 for up to 12 minutes. All records from any treatments or diagnosis can then be passed onto a patient’s GP.
Despite the best will in the world, many of us are reluctant to visit our dentist until it can be too late. But with a dentist literally on our doorstep, avoiding them becomes almost impossible – or at least that’s the premise of a San Francisco dentist, Dr Sara Creighton. Dr Creighton teamed up with one of her patients, a former investment banker, to develop a dentist’s office on wheels that travels around the city parking right in front of office buildings. This 26-foot black trailer can be hitched to a pick-up truck and contains a sterilisation room, waiting area and two semi-private consultation areas. Studio Dental as it is called recently won a 2015 National Healthcare Design Award.
And certainly it is not difficult to see why – a visit to a dentist can often take nearly 3 hours out of a working day (when you include travelling back and forth). This way, you can be in and out within an hour. There’s certainly no excuses now.
For the seventh section of this trendsletter click here. Alternatively you can download your full PDF edition of TMI-Spy Health Winter 2015 here or you can also email [email protected] to receive your copy straight into your inbox.