Good Hospital Design has an Impact on Recuperation


Photo: geograph.co.uk: Great Ormond Street Hospital Roof Garden

The new research showing that good hospital design can affect a patient's recovery seems like common sense, really.

The impact of having windows that open, courtyards and open space to sit in and a cheerful ambiance should be obvious design features of any new building. Lloyd has written about the wonders of new prison design, surely the sick deserve the benefits as well.


Photo: icb.uk.com: John Radcliffe Hospital Garden

A new report, The Psychological and Social Needs of Patients, issued by the British Medical Association is calling on healthcare organisations to prioritise design in all future building projects. Their research shows that good design can affect recovery times. And bad design can cause "anxiety, delirium, high blood pressure and increased use of painkillers."

The report covers many aspects: single sex wards (a plus), noise (less of it is better), and social interaction (common areas are good). Ward lay-out is key: eliminating long corridors because nurses can spend up to 40% of their time walking instead of caring for patients.

Some of the interesting suggestions for TreeHuggers are those concerning exposure to daylight. Researchers found patients hospitalised for depression stayed an average of 3.7 days fewer if they were assigned east-facing rooms exposed to morning light, compared to patients in rooms with less sunlight. A Canadian investigation found that women had shorter stays if their rooms had more daylight exposure and mortality in both sexes was lower in sunnier rooms than in north-facing rooms.


Photo: dailyartfixx: Arthur Lismer

Exposure to nature and hospital gardens is important. Looking out windows reduces stress and even a picture of a landscape lowers blood pressure and stress.

Hospital gardens are calming and restorative and reduce stress for the patients and the families; improving their mood and reducing blood pressure.

This is all great information for new developments but hopefully some of the ideas can be implemented in existing older buildings as well. A representative of a patients' rights group agrees: "Healthcare professionals must stop treating people as widgets on a production line or a statistic and treat the person as a human being. Patient care cannot simply be about the disease or condition that the patient is suffering from but must consider them as a whole person".

More on Good Institutional Design in Architecture:
Canadian Offenders Jailed in Stunning LEED Designed Prison
At IIDEX: Greening the Hospital Room
William McDonough Takes on First Healthcare Facility

Tags: Architecture | Buildings | Corporate Responsibility | Economics

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