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Creating Beautiful Workplaces in Healthcare

Taking better care of doctors, nurses and staff so they can take better care of patients

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In the past, the primary focus in healthcare was on treating patients, so facilities were kept simple, sterile, and devoid of much color in staff-only spaces. However, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are also workplaces, where doctors, nurses and other staff spend long hours each day. Administrators are realizing that employee engagement correlates directly to patient satisfaction – if the staff feels taken care of, they take better care of their patients.

NeoCon, an interior design conference held this June in Chicago, is geared toward workplace and commercial design. Some of the key takeaways from this year’s conference were focused on changes in healthcare design. Healthcare facilities are mirroring trends in commercial design workplaces, which are placing a higher value on spaces that are functional yet also beautiful, comfortable, and promote social interaction between coworkers.

Many times facilities know that they want to make their spaces nicer for their employees, but aren’t sure how to do that. Some design trends highlighted at NeoCon 2017 include:

  • More “we” space, less “me” space – Many places are clustering offices together to promote collaboration. This could also mean simply taking down visual barriers between desks, or using glass doors that still provide screening but let in more light. This supports a team-based approach to patient care.
  • Making spaces flexible – This allows a room to have multiple functions, improving efficiency.
  • Multiple options for different kinds of work – Creating spaces for focus work, collaboration, and conferencing, to name a few. This allows employees the ability to choose which space to use based on what kind of work is needed.
  • Adding social areas – Spaces such as an employee lounge let coworkers meet socially, perhaps to unwind while on break during a long shift.
  • Integrating technology into spaces – This allows employees more options for where they do their work. Examples are having USB ports available in chairs and tables in social and staff spaces, or even having SMART tables available in these areas, with screens you can write on.
  • Providing finishes that invigorate the staff – While maintaining a health theme to the décor, facilities can elevate their spaces by adding colors, artwork, or organic elements.

At the conference, manufacturers highlighted everything from carpet to furniture to give designers and owners fresh, new ideas to create environments for patients and staff that support their well-being. These manufacturers have gone to great lengths to ensure that their products meet safety requirements while giving an updated look to any space.

Shive-Hattery currently has two projects under design with a major area hospital that showcase these workplace trends. One is a renovation of offices for radiology staff, which includes administrative staff and faculty. The biggest change was in opening up the space visually. Removing visual barriers will make the spaces brighter, bringing in more natural light (which also helps mental health), and encourages more collaboration. The new spaces are modern and sophisticated to appeal to all generations and positions.

The other project is renovation of the Pathology Lab. While this staff does not see patients, the owner still wanted to create a nice space for them. The first step was to make the space less sterile and institutional-looking. The dated beige will be a thing of the past and colors like blues and oranges will be added to the finishes. The lounge will be renovated to have calming colors to promote relaxation, but just enough of an orange punch, using vinyl wall graphics, to invigorate and refresh.

Benefits of beautifying hospitals

  • Spaces can energize staff (especially those working long hours on hospital shifts)
  • Allows employees a quiet, calm place to unwind away from the hectic patient care spaces
  • Keeps staff refreshed
  • Gives patients a better experience
  • Shows that their administrations care about them, which creates higher employee engagement and less turnover (attract and retain talent)

Focusing the look of healthcare facilities to fulfill the needs of employees only adds to the patient experience. By doing so, patients benefit by getting a more engaged and energized care team. And staff benefit from having a more beautiful and comfortable workplace.