Design for health: how the built environment of a hospital impacts patient recovery.

10th December 2019

You’re most likely aware that the environments we find ourselves in have the power to affect our mood and our sense of wellbeing. But what you might not consider, is just how significant an impact our surroundings have on our physical and mental health. 

In recent years the conclusive research carried out across a variety of medical institutions has proven that the built environment of a hospital is intrinsically connected to the success of treatments and procedures. Infection rates, staff fatigue, and patient recovery times, can all be reduced in well-built and considered environments.

The use of natural light is frequently a key consideration when creating healthcare spaces. Sunlight has been proven to reduce patient stress, help to stabilise circadian rhythms, and even have antibacterial properties. In addition, acoustic environments are carefully planned and designed. Hospitals can be noisy places at all hours, and it’s crucial to keep disruptive sound levels low, reducing stress amongst the staff and improving the quality of rest for patients.  

The layout of a hospital is another vital consideration, with ease of wayfinding and orientation a primary focus. In a world where time-sensitivity is paramount, there should be no confusion moving between wards! Patient bathrooms must also cater for all, meaning that accessibility measures must be maximised. Additionally, it’s been proven that patients who are granted privacy and high-quality sanitation facilities spend fewer nights in hospital resulting in better long-term health outcomes. Maximising privacy, must therefore be at the top of the design team’s agenda.

At ITC we have an extensive portfolio of healthcare projects and these are all considerations we take into account when collaborating with the project teams to deliver exceptional work. As contractors working in healthcare settings, we also have a great responsibility to carry out projects in a way which minimises disruption and in no way affects the operational environment.

This was a crucial concern in our work at NHS Frimley Park Hospital. We were called in to complete an extension and refurbishment of the paediatric and teenage units, which involved a full strip-out of fixtures and fittings, before installing extensive specialist services such as pipe supply systems for medical gases. As the wards couldn’t be closed down, this meant all work was carried out on a live site and our team had to uphold the highest levels of health, safety and hygiene. We ensured these strict standards were met through our project-specific briefing sessions for onsite operatives, and our continuous project monitoring – as we do for every project.

It’s this level of care and commitment to quality which has led to long-standing relationships with an ever-increasing list of prestigious healthcare clients. For example, we’ve worked with UCLH on a range of different sites, including their Medical Intensive Unit, Albany Wing Basement, Dental Education Centre, Molly Lane Fox Wards and on their Queen Square Wards. We’re also currently onsite on a major £1.9 million project for Epsom and St Helier Hospital, where we will complete a fit-out of their Intensive Care Unit.

The healthcare sector is a challenging space to work in and all aspects of design and delivery must place patient care at the very centre. However, with a collaborative approach and years of expertise, these challenges can be navigated to build spaces which optimise patient recovery. At ITC we’re proud of our healthcare portfolio and look forward to adding to it in the future.

If you’d like to arrange a consultation regarding an upcoming project, or receive examples of our work relevant to your requirements, please get in touch.

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