Improving public day-procedure clinics: what every facility manager needs to know

by FM Media
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day procedure clinics

Annie Robinson, a Melbourne-based interior designer and director of Spowers architecture studio, is on a mission to change the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of public day-procedure clinics. Think fertility clinics, mental health clinics or virtually any medical facility where treatments are administered but patients are not required to stay overnight.

“These can be highly emotional environments for patients, partners, support people, family members and, of course, their medical teams,” Annie explains.

“The application of good design is a powerful way to help humanise these clinical settings and, ideally, provide comfort during periods of high anxiety and stress.”

Designing for efficiency and empathy in day-procedure clinics

Annie acknowledges that, like any workplace, day-procedure clinics need to operate with flow and efficiency, as a primary requirement. To this end, she guides health managers and facility managers to take a ‘day-in-the-life’ approach.

“We need to understand how the facility operates, from the moment a clinician or patient enters the clinic — right through to when they leave,” Annie explains.

“This allows us to better comprehend how people move through the space, and then create designs that accommodate those behaviours and support efficient workflow.”

Respecting personal preferences

One-size-fits-all is not a design approach Annie supports.

“In day-procedure settings, it’s important to nurture and reassure patients and provide options to use the space in ways that best suit their cultural, physical and personal preferences” Annie says.

For instance, Annie suggests considering the design of waiting areas to accommodate both large areas as well as more private, smaller spaces for personal discussions and respite.

Additionally, Annie says sensory options should also be integrated within the design of these clinics. She advocates using neuroaesthetic principles, providing people with options to interact with environments that suit them as individuals.  These spaces might be low-tech, low-light areas that are private, as well as more brightly lit open spaces.

“This enables people to feel more ‘at home’ in the clinic as they’re empowered to make their own choices about where and how they use the space depending on how they are feeling in that moment.”

Annie and her colleagues at Spowers are accustomed to making people feel ‘at home’. Having designed extensively for aged care and seniors living environments, where human-centred design is at the focus, Annie is highly experienced at creating environments for a broad range of ages, genders and cultures.

Embracing outdoor elements, indoors

“Connecting people to the natural environment, directly or indirectly, is referred to as ‘biophilia’” Annie says.

“There is considerable research confirming that biophilic design can be influential in the promotion of positive mental health outcomes by reducing stress and anxiety levels, and also by increasing patient recovery responses.”

According to Annie, the Spowers studio is driving the design of these spaces away from environments that feel ‘institutional’ and ‘clinical’, towards designs she believes will benefit staff and gain better patient outcomes.

Annie Robinson

For more on building and space design, read about the latest trends in aged care from Fender Katsalidis principal Jessica Lee.

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