When we think of how to design hospitals with wellbeing in mind, patients are typically…
Health and safety have always been at the core of hospital and healthcare architecture. Emergencies are mostly planned for, but the recent pandemic drove home how critical flexibility was in dealing with unforeseen surprises.
When reacting to changing health advice and restrictions, adaptability has been vital. This was particularly tough for facilities with little flexibility to accommodate changes.
Although we hope for less uncertainty moving forward into 2022, the biggest lesson we take away from the start of the 2020s is that post-vaccination hospital and healthcare architecture needs to be ready for anything. As technological change far outpaces the development cycle, even a COVID free world would have still required a serious look at flexibility for longstanding buildings to meet the needs of rapidly changing healthcare demands.
While we’re focusing on a post-COVID future, architects need to design and plan for a COVID level surprise factor. That means designing with flexibility at the core.
Future hospital and healthcare architectural must-haves
While aesthetic designs will ebb and flow, practical elements are certain to be necessary when designing healthcare buildings for the future.
Plan for pandemics
We don’t want to imagine a repeat, and any future pandemic will probably require different protocols than this one, but it is essential to plan for them. Too many epidemiologists predicted a pandemic, and too few organisations and institutions took these warnings into considerations to implement a plan for such an event.
Now that we’ve seen the unthinkable, we need to plan for another similar scenario. This could include designing:
- Storage space to house emergency equipment
- Quick install options should expansions, mobile or quarantine units need to be set up
- Optimised spaces able to be repurposed according to the needs of the time.
It was not just the corporate world that learned workers were able to operate remotely. There were also a number of healthcare and hospital roles able to be done outside the facility. Workspaces, as a result, will need to be more flexible than they’ve been in the past.
There may be times when everyone is needed on-site and when the venue may need to strip back to essential staff only. Design should consider how to optimise that space when fewer people are around. Movable furniture, convenient storage and floor plans that allow for the most diverse possibilities are all necessary for future architectural designs.
Fast action can save lives, and the design of a facility plays a large role in the adaptability of the space. Similarly to our points above, flexible furniture and easy to access storage of emergency supplies and equipment can help to adjust to health advice and safety requirements quickly.
High specification furniture
Some health and safety elements can be inbuilt. HTM 63 and HTM 71 compliant furniture, for example, is a must. The Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) sets out specifications to ensure the highest levels of hygiene, built with melamine faced MDF carcass. Working with high-spec furniture materials throughout the facility gives peace of mind to staff and patients that matters of hygiene and safety are pre-installed.
This type of furniture can withstand intense cleaning while also being extremely easy to clean. Whether it’s in a low thoroughfare area, where it may just get wiped over by a cleaner, or a high-touch area that is deeply disinfected, its surfaces are clean and hospital grade safe.
Healthcare architecture & furniture design
David Bailey Furniture Systems specialise in healthcare furniture design and manufacturing, creating practical, functional furniture that meets the highest HTM 63 and HTM 71 standards set out by the UK’s Department of Health. Both pre-pandemic and post, our furniture helps hospitals and health providers to stay safe and serve their community. Browse our healthcare furniture product brochure or get in touch to discuss how we can help with your latest project.