What images come to mind when you think of a hospital? Drab corridors and beds separated by curtains are typical of traditional hospital layouts, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Great hospital interior design can revolutionise the way we think about hospitals – and more importantly, it can have a real and positive impact on patient health.
Why hospital environments matter
Hospitals are unique buildings, accommodating a wide cross-section of the population in an enclosed space. Many patients are immunocompromised, meaning that they are especially susceptible to infections such as MRSA. Meanwhile, members of the public are constant visitors, moving in and out of the hospital space.
It’s when we consider the risk of cross-contamination or infection that hospital interior design can really make a difference. It’s been argued that reducing the number of shared open spaces and providing more individual rooms is an effective method of infection control, cutting the risk of infection for vulnerable patients. While we’re a long way from introducing single rooms for all, this is a significant factor to consider if you are planning a hospital refurbishment.
Other layout changes can also accommodate better practices in hospitals. For example, premature babies fare better when they are close to their mothers. Designing neonatal intensive care units to include space for mothers can have a dramatic effect on rates of recovery and on shortening the length of time spent in hospital.
Mood altering interior design
Many people dislike hospitals and will do anything they can to avoid having to enter one. While it’s understandable and very human to recoil from all associations with illness, there will come a time for most of us when we don’t have the choice. And by incorporating uplifting hospital interior design that helps regulate our moods, designers have the power to transform the often dispiriting experience of a hospital stay into something more positive.
- Natural light looks great, and also has a measurable physical effect on our bodies – helping to regulate our sleep patterns, energy levels and mood. Maximising natural light wherever possible can help give hospital patients a health boost and maintain good spirits. By contrast, stark, artificial lights that are switched on through the night can play havoc with our body clocks. While hospitals often need to keep lights on 24/7, innovative dynamic lighting may be a better option to promote good sleep (although no connection with melatonin production has been found).
- We feel better when we’re exposed to nature. Providing access to hospital gardens is a great way to improve patient mood, reduce stress and even boost the immune system.
- Inspiring design features: Nobody enjoys spending time in an institutional building. By incorporating bright colours and other welcoming design features into hospital buildings, we can make hospitals into more positive places. This is especially important when designing paediatric units for children.
At Apollo Interiors we specialise in hospital interior design and fit-out. Contact us to discuss how we can help you with your project.