Watch the webinar: Revolutionising the workplace for healthcare workers

June 30, 2021

On 21 June we broadcast a digital roundtable as a part of the 2021 London Festival of Architecture. Our panel of experts discussed the future of healthcare design and what we must do to create the very best hospitals, clinics and units that promote mental and physical health and morale of staff. Here you can watch it again.

The Covid-19 outbreak highlighted the weaknesses in healthcare settings for key workers globally. Caring for staff is also caring for patients. Creating adaptable environments to future-proof for possible impending pandemics is essential so that places can better support patient and staff demands.

 

Taking a holistic approach from urban planning through to detailed design is vital to achieving a sustainable environment that can evolve over time. Below the recording you will find all key takeaways from the discussion.

 

The webinar was chaired by Michael Woodford, Partner at White Arkitekter and Director of London studio and the pannelists were:

 

Charlotte Ruben, Architect and Partner, Head of Healthcare Design, White Arkitekter
Jonathan Erskine, Director EuHPN, Director EuHPN
Kevin Bates, Director at Scott Tallon Walker Architects
Ruth Charity, Oxford University Hospital Lead & Art Coordinator NHS

 

Watch the webinar below.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • The Covid-19 outbreak highlighted the weaknesses in healthcare settings for key workers globally. Caring for staff is also caring for patients. Creating adaptable environments to future-proof for possible impending pandemics is essential so that places can better support patient and staff demands.

 

  • Attractive and healing environments are fundamental in promoting physical and mental wellbeing, and the need for spaces to contemplate and provide distraction is now more imperative than ever. Due to the complexity of healthcare environments these spaces are often forgotten but healthcare settings must provide staff with places to pause in environments with external access as well as access to art.

 

  • Taking a holistic approach from urban planning through to detailed design is vital to achieving a sustainable environment that can evolve over time.

 

  • The essence of positive distraction has never been more urgent than it is today and the quality of detailing from the use of colour, art, lighting and wayfinding down to the furniture specified is important as it creates a distraction and a calming environment for patients and staff alike.

 

  • Generous floor-to-floor height, access to fresh air, bringing in natural light with access to outside views of nature is fundamental in creating a human environment that promotes health and wellbeing. By taking a more integrated approach to landscaping and outdoor surroundings, we can create better spaces for patients, staff and society.

 

  • Creating multidisciplinary environments through proximity, flexibility and adaptability is paramount to the future of hospital design. The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a number of different strategies used in throughout the world including: the transformation of non-healthcare buildings into Covid-19 wards; the reimagining of theatre spaces into ICU wards within newly completed hospitals; retrofitting existing hospitals for infection prevention and control; and plug-in spaces to control patient and staff flow, intended to be temporary and demountable. From this, we have learnt that flexible, sectionable units need to be built into future plans so that staff can perform their roles in the most efficient way.

 

  • Separation of flows with access to multiple entrances is key and we must re-think waiting areas to prevent dilemmas whereby vulnerable patients are restricted from being accompanied in hospital and staff do not get the opportunity to interact with patients’ loved ones.

 

  • Although emergency preparedness is something hospital staff train for, no one could have prepared for something on this scale, and over the past 18 months healthcare staff have been faced with unfamiliar environments. While some mitigations were put in place, non-clinical public spaces have been sealed off which has had an immense effect on staff physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore, it’s crucial that we re-think informal staff spaces in the future to provide secure, communal eating areas available to combat isolation and increase social interaction and provide a moment of relief away from the clinical environment.

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  • Healthcare buildings must have efficient layouts to cut down travel time when staff are moving between spaces. Communal areas should be uncluttered, calm environments so people aren’t snow-blinded by posters or too much messaging.

 

  • Stakeholder involvement from a very early stage is essential, so that each stakeholder feels an amount of ownership and responsibility for the environment that is created, leading to staff satisfaction and retention.

 

  • Designers must take a holistic, integrated approach to creating healing environments where the physical environment is merged with smart technology – all in a way that supports the operational standards and ethos of the hospital, with the idea that it’s people-centred design from patients to family and visitors to staff.

 

  • Haptic technology versus face-to-face interaction: smart technology has an important role to play in new hospital design the pandemic has brought us towards a touchless reliance on technology. Therefore, architects and designers need to consider how we balance this with face-to-face interactions, so we don’t just rely on the visual sense but the role of hearing, touch and smell.

 

  • An integrated art programme is crucial in supporting hospital staff wellbeing as it provides positive and calming working environments for staff and combats low morale.

 

  • Incorporating biophilic imagery has proven to play a vital role in reducing stress for both patients and staff and by supporting patients, then staff are also supported to perform the critical work they perform in the most efficient way.

 

  • Architects and designers need to future-proof and create robust, simple buildings that can be easily adapted over the years to prevent the need for demolition which occurs so often in many of the UK’s European counterparts.

 

If you have any questions on the webinar or relating to White Arkiteker’s work in healthcare, please contact Charlotte Ruben.

 

Contact Person

Charlotte Ruben

Charlotte Ruben

Architect

Stockholm

charlotte.ruben@white.se

+46 8 402 26 28

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