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Friday, 09 December 2011 09:30

Hospital Signs & Way-finding Design, the Medical Context

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Albert Einstein is quoted as said: Life without mystery and magic is not life, but is death.

At this point of time, more and more research evidence is being accumulated giving concrete evidence of the link between well executed hospital interior design, and the positive effect on patient recovery time. Proficient interior design has an effect  on staff performance, as well, by creating a better working environment. Thus interior design of hospitals, has shifted from the view as an expense, to an realization it is an investment.

In Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009), Esther M. Sternberg, M.D., writes that “patients in the hospital are constantly exposed to stressors, that can weaken the immune system and possibly lead to impaired health or healing.”

The fore most aim of an esthetically interior environment is to reduce stressors. Thus of course aiding a better functioning immune system. This fact does not even be needed to be confirmed by clinical studies. Each of us, from his own experience can appreciate, his or hers, aptitude for an esthetic home or work space.

When addressing the term of Medical Interior Design, we refer not only to the obvious factors such as plantation, outdoor scenery of patient rooms, but also to bed-sheets, curtains, carpets, wall colors, waiting areas & lounges, patient circulation areas, staff room including furniture, patient rooms showers, nurse station design, signage and way-finding systems, lighting and daylight, surface textures, interior landmarks, sound and music, etc.

Hospital are a crowded environments, with continues activity round the clock. many patients in their experience find a mental similarity between prisons and hospitals. Factors such as a lack of connection to the out-side world, the lack of a homely feeling, lack of privacy, and of-course the lack of security and confidence due to their medical condition.

Thus the application of a creative design to hospitals interiors can have a positive impact on the emotional and psychological factors which can affect the well-being of both patients, staff and visitors.

This point can be well utilized also in existing hospital buildings. A change of wall colors, signage, bed-linen, blankets curtains, furniture, can be done stage by stage with-out a significant interference to the daily operation of the hospital. As already stated this is not an expense but an investment.

Shorter time cycle till initial recovery, can also lower the risk of complications post medical procedures, by reducing the time of exposure to potential external infection factors. this is critical in wards treating elderly people.

In hospitals, a properly-designed visual environment, has important benefits. It can make the hospital & medical experience more pleasant for a wide range of users from the elderly to the very young. Studies have shown improved patient recovery rates, linked to a pleasant interior design. This in turn boosts overall hospital productivity and staff retention. A hospital can be an environment which is warm, inviting and uplifting.