While speaking of healthcare facilities, it is important to consider the changes that the industry has gone through over the last 50 years. Traditionally, hospitals were uninviting spaces where one went when one was sick. But today, healthcare is not just about treatment, there is also a huge part of healthcare that looks into preventive care and healthy lifestyles.
This means not everyone who walks into the hospital doors is a sick person, there are many who come for regular check-ups, others who are consulting doctors, dieticians, nutrition experts on the how to live a healthier life. Today, health systems are beginning to focus more on becoming wellness destinations—convenient places that the public wants to visit to proactively manage their health.
The wellness component of contemporary healthcare industry makes experience and design an important part of the healthcare facilities. So while emergency department, imaging, surgery, and medical offices are still important, the clients walking into hospitals also want to feel good about being in the space.
HOSPITALS ARE UNDERGOING A REVAMP
Most large publicly run hospitals in countries around the world were set up during the world wars, and are easily over 40-50 years old. This means, healthcare facilities globally are looking to revamp, set up extensions, bring in new technologies and newer offerings. With their finite resources, the hospitals are looking to create a thoughtfully designed environment that can have a significant impact on patients’ experience, and ultimately, their health.
THE IDEAL HEALTHCARE FACILITY OF THE FUTURE
Spaces should communicate calm and warmth, and be welcoming and accessible to patients and caregivers. Parking should be easy and accessible. Extended-care rooms should be filled with daylight and include natural palettes and organic materials and textures with soothing colors. Hospitals are also looking at customizing rooms for regular patients as in the case of pediatric care; and erasing “equipment fear” by removing unnecessary medical equipment—particularly in rooms that are not set up for urgent care. According to medical practitioners, all of these measures can help lower stress.
As world population continues to live longer and the focus on health becomes more preventative, healthcare facilities with a huge footprint will likely shift to smaller, acute, specialized care centers that will serve sicker, older patients.
CARE FOR THE ELDERLY
There is a lot of research being done in the healthcare facilities design being offered to seniors and elderly patients as well. Typically, this segment of patients was separated from mainstream living, with most facilities for the elderly being introverted. Recent research and surveys show keeping these patients in the mainstream can go a long way in their recovery process, and will enable them to live happier and more meaningful lives.
“In the past, there was an opinion that hospitals should be viewed as a technical or science-led machine. The opinion was that the more scientific it looked, the better the hospital was. But we learned that was exactly the opposite of what made people feel good.”
Gene Klow, a celebrated architect, with over thirty-five years’ experience in the design and construction of healthcare facilities.
Healthcare centres are today not just the place you go to when you are sick. Today, hospitals are wellness destination, looking to provide the patients a sense of calm and serenity. Modern healthcare facilities are designed to let in natural light, and offer views of gardens, to people walking past and even far away mountains. Healthcare facilities for terminally ill patients are making efforts to connect these treatment centres to the outdoors, and become more patient-centric.