A trip to hospital can be a daunting experience for a child. From their perspective, hospitals are a stark contrast from their everyday life, full of busy people, different noises and strange smells.
To bridge the gap between hospital and home environments, the design of rooms in children’s hospitals is moving away from a uniform, clinical look, to be more ‘homelike’ and comforting.
Connecting to Life Outside Hospital
When children are facing longer hospital stays they typically cannot leave the ward and can often feel quite disconnected from daily life.
Incorporating a view on the ‘goings-on’ outside the hospital – through large windows in patient rooms or from a shared terrace on the ward – provides patients (and their families) with a visual connection to the world outside. Being able to watch some kind of activity, such as traffic or people passing by, helps reduce the feeling of isolation.
As an added bonus, patients also benefit from exposure to natural light, which can also assist in regulating circadian rhythms, improving sleep and other health benefits.
Transforming the Patient Room Into a Living Room
A hospital room is much more than just somewhere to sleep. It’s also where a patient eats, meets with visitors, so it’s important that the design reflects its many uses.
The majority of patient rooms in newly built children’s hospitals are single occupancy, providing both privacy and a sense of personal space. This feeling of a safe and personal haven can be further extended by including elements typically found in a living room, such as comfortable furniture for family, a gaming console for entertainment and homely décor.
Personalising Their Own Space
The ability to bring things from home allows children to make their hospital room more like their own. A small shelf to store books or toys, a cord or magnetic strip to hang cards and other decorations are easy ways to offer opportunities for personalisation. Providing the option to customise their physical environment also gives young patients a feeling of harmony in an otherwise restrictive environment.
Image Credits: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Franscisco