Published: 27 October 2019
Published: 27 October 2019
Through the 'safe environment' concept – a component of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard on Clinical Governance.
The health service environment, including all facilities, plant and equipment, should be fit for purpose. These elements must be kept in good working order to limit the occurrence of accidents and assure patient safety (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 2017).
What does a facility ‘unfit for purpose’ look like? Examples of facilities that made headlines this year:
Optimum design is much more than aesthetics. Good design can reduce the potential of unwanted events. Design considerations include ensuring adequate lighting is present in areas where medicines are dispensed; or by choosing surfaces that are easy to clean and disinfect (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 2017).
Research into hospital design indicates that, when guided by scientific research, environmental design can positively influence the healing process (Ulrich et al. 2010).
Effective design can directly result in quantifiable psychological improvements, particularly noticeable in areas such as:
The term for design considerations that aim to improve healthcare through architecture is ‘evidence-based design’. It isn’t hard to see how thoughtful design could improve the hospital experience, with many modern facilities moving away from the typical noisy, chaotic and dark hospital environments of old, which only further intensifying patient stress (Berry et al. 2018).
Having clear directions and signage can help patients locate the services they need. Patient comfort and experience of care can be improved through the correct use of furnishings, colour, artwork, light and sound (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 2017).
‘Wayfinding’ is the term given to the ability of hospital staff, patients and visitors to navigate their way through a healthcare facility with ease. Effective wayfinding results in staff spending less time directing people, and a better patient experience overall (NSW Health 2014).
Wayfinding improvements include a combination of the following elements:
(NSW Health 2014)
Well-designed facilities can assist clinicians to provide the correct amount of engagement or stimulation for patients who have mental health issues. By reducing unnecessary stimulation, these spaces can also simplify the environment for patients who have cognitive impairment (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 2017).
The environment should be designed in a way that minimises stimuli that is not helpful to patients, e.g. clutter and posters in the facility. Audio stimuli can also be reduced, e.g. through the use of sound-absorbing ceilings, walls and flooring; and reduced equipment noise where possible (Berry et al. 2018).
The health service organisation:
(Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 2017)
Question 1 of 4
True or false? Design considerations, while important, do not play a role in the healing process.
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