Innovations in Hospital Room Interior Design

Innovations in Hospital Room Interior Design
Over the years hospital room interior design  has become an innovative industry, especially for those visitors and patients who have to stay in the hospital for long periods of time.  Over the years,
hospital room interior designs  have changed from being clinical and sterile to a more inviting, functional, and sometimes livable room for patients and their families.   Because of this form of redesigning the philosophy of patient-care, hospital room interiors can be bright, high-tech, and enhance the healing of the patient quicker than ever before.
Addressing Hospital Room Interior Needs
In order to meet the needs of patients for the new and innovative hospital room interior design , at least 4 fundamental needs have to be met in order for it to happen: sense of control, comfort, connection to the outside world, and family/caregiver feedback.  With these fundamentals involved, the hospital room interior becomes one where the patient has more control of their environment and the family has a space in which they can be there with the patient more inside the room than outside in the waiting area unless surgery is involved.  It also helps hospital interior designers gain a deeper understanding of those needs that have been unmet for many years.
In 2004, Perkins and Will did a study in which they talked with people who had a lot of experience with being in and around the hospital environment, especially if they were there for an extended period of time.  Since their study focused on children hospital room interior design, they decided to focus on those individuals involved in the childhood patient care aspect including the children themselves, the family, and even the caregivers.  Questions based on daily life, functionality of the hospital, and the overall ambience of the hospital itself were discussed in detail, including what they would like to see.The individuals involved with the study provided a list of problems and potential solutions and suggestions for hospital room interior design  that would make the experience more comfortable and less stressful over all.
 Not only did these ideas prove to be of use from a child-centered care angle, but also for adults patients and their caregivers who also go through various stressors related to long-term hospital stays.  Thus, after some analysis, Perkins and Will came up with some conclusions to make hospital room interior design more than just visual elements and nice decorations. First of all, Perkins and Will concluded that for better hospital room interior design the patient felt like they needed more privacy and desired a hospital room that would equal and akin to a hotel suite or small apartment with basic amenities such as a refrigerator, microwave, etc.  Space was also seen as an essential element to better hospital room interior design especially as it related to proximity to the bathroom, the ability to move around and not bump into any medical equipment, and using the facilities without any hassles. As far as the outside world was concerned, patients and caregivers alike expressed the need to keep in touch with friends, classmates, etc. especially if the hospital stay was going to be long term.  In lieu of this, the overall conclusion became that the hospital room interior design should be one that reflected and replicated home life as normally as possible for all parties involved.

Possible enhancements for hospital room design based on findings

Perkins and Will looked for innovative ways in which hospital room interior designs would go above and beyond the confines of the the patient room itself.  They first looked at the functionality of the room by providing zones where the patient and family would be in one area, but within the same room the nurse or other staff member could still do their work and be able to communicate with the family about any concerns and/or questions they might have in mind.   There would also be a lowered noise level within the patient room and outside the room based on a floor and wall plan in which noises would be deflected with an acoustical barrier so as not to even disrupt other patients or the one in the room.

Another aspect of comfort and functionality of hospital room interior design that needed improvement was the patient’s bed in proximity to the bathroom.  This is important to patients because oftentimes, especially at night the patient can run into heavy medical equipment and get bumps and bruises along the way.  Bathroom accidents can also commonly happen which is why they themselves can be re-designed for accessibility and comfort by providing railings, bright accents, and lots of lighting.

Other spaces included in this new up-to-date hospital room interior design include areas where medical equipment and monitors can be hidden, an area where computer-use is possible without disruption to the patient if they happen to be taking a nap and there is need for extra privacy while still being present.  With overnight visits, an extra bed can be placed next to the patient’s bed, especially for younger patients who want to feel comforted and not feel like they are in a scary place.  There are even areas for food and drink that provide a break from the beside that include refrigerator, microwave, and coffeemaker (as would be found in a hotel suite.

For those caregivers bringing clothes and other personal items, storage space will be created so the patient room doesn’t look mess.  Usually in most hospital rooms, there is only a closet available for coats and hats and maybe a few shirts.  With the new hospital room interior design,  the storage space will include clothing, bedding, toys for the kids, and even toiletries for the bathroom.

Technology is also very important to the new aspects related to hospital room interior design.  This includes an LCD screen with a touch pad so the patient can control the lighting, shades, temperature of the room, and even the television.  Internet connections are also available for connections with friends and others in the outside world.  There is also an LCD panel for photo displays, artwork and even messages as well as the ability to communicate with others without them stepping foot into the room.  This unique aspect of hospital room interior design helps to prevent infection and adds to the privacy space that the patient actually needs.

Some patient rooms will also be equipped with a virtual skylight that can change the color of the room,  and create a sense of day or night.  There are also visuals for the skylight that the patient can choose (such as stars and clouds) to enhance the fun and purpose of the skylight itself.  While patients can control some of these technological aspects, the caregivers are also given the opportunity to control the technology around them, especially if a medical need arises.

Furniture is also an important aspect of hospital room interior design because both patient and caregiver need to feel comfortable.  This includes fabric-lined chairs, adjustable tables at the bedside, etc. In fact, with increased sizing of the hospital room itself, this can allow for the hospital bed and chairs to be re-arranged in the way that the patient and caregiver feel most comfortable with.

With increased focus on patient care, the new wave of hospital room interior designing focuses on an experience of going to the hospital as one in which the design is familiar, tangible, and comfortable for both the patient and the caregiver.  While it is an investment, in the long run, this investment will be worthwhile because it will create a good impression on the hospital facility and the staff itself.  In addition, healing will increased because there is less stress for everyone involved in the hospital stay.


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