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Creating a More Connected Healthcare Environment

Posted In // Healthcare Design Tips

Relationship has emerged as a critical factor in healthcare settings. According to Casey Frankiewicz and Douglas J. Ogurek of Healthcare Design Magazine, evidence-based design (EBD) research has revealed that everyone involved – patient, family, and healthcare staff – experience positive outcomes when interpersonal connection is established within the built environment. Experts have successfully argued for the incorporation of outside parties into the healing framework of healthcare.

Open to the family

Consideration of family in healthcare space planning was first recognized in pediatric medicine, Frankiewicz and Ogurek explain: “Opportunities for parents to stay with their children and participate in their care improved recovery by removing the fear and anxiety that parent/child separation stirs.” In the 1980s, healthcare stakeholders started to realize that maternity wards would be more successful if they were less institutional and more inviting to families, especially fathers.

The 21st-century caregiver ratio

Since the turn of the century, the healthcare environment has been adapted to meet a slew of integrated needs: regulatory compliance, patient protection, sustainability, and the declining caregiver ratio. As patient rooms have been re-envisioned, family involvement has been a central concern – especially because of that last factor.

In 2010, the ratio of potential caregivers per patient 80 years or older was 7 to 1, according to a study conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). In other words, there were seven potential caregivers for each aging person. That number is expected to drop to 4:1 by 2030 and 3:1 by 2050. As that ratio declines, families will gradually play a greater role, says the AARP: “Rising demand and shrinking families to provide [long-term services and supports (LTSS)] call for new solutions to the financing and delivery of LTSS and family support.”

Why connection matters

Using proven methods from workspace design to increase interaction and a sense of home could have far-reaching benefits, says the Minnesota Medical Association. Medical researchers Uchino and Garvey determined that family involvement leads to faster healing after heart surgery and improves the psychological wellness of those suffering from cancer. Frankiewicz and Ogurek also point out that offering a more livable healthcare space could help to attract the best possible employees. In turn, the facility profits from additional referrals. Everyone involved should experience a positive impact.

Since it is so beneficial for hospitals and other healthcare practices to foster connection with family, connection must be integral to any healthcare workspace design approach. Find out today how our evidence-based solutions connect the power of space to patient comfort.

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