Healthcare Design is an information-based practices in the field of Interior Design
Because products are always changing and more research is being done everyday to better healthcare environments through design, products and concepts behind healthcare design keeps designers on their toes. Here are five current trends in healthcare to improve hospitals and their design.
1. Products with Copper Properties
Recent studies have shown that copper surfaces used in healthcare facilities can reduce microbial contamination when cleaned regularly. Copper surfaces made up of at least 60% copper is the only surface the EPA has approved of having inherent antimicrobial properties. HAI's are Hospital Associated Infections. It is estimated that 2,000,000 people in the United States acquire an infection each year from contaminated touch surfaces in hospitals or healthcare facilities resulting in 100,000 deaths. Copper surfaces have been found to kill up to 99.9% of the microbes that can cause the HAI's patients pick up from hospitals. The bacterial viruses copper products are proven by the EPA to kill within two hours of contact are Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli O157:H7 (Antimicrobial Copper). Not only are copper surfaces great for their antimicrobial characteristics but copper can also be mixed with different metal alloys to get many aesthetic looks for different design needs. These copper surfaces are also recyclable and reasonable in price. Cuverro is one of the leading companies producing various copper products that are common touch surfaces notorious for spreading HAI's. Some of their products include keyboards, light switches, sink basins and drains, as well as door handles and knobs. To view their products visit Cuverro.
2. Textiles and Privacy Curtains
It is important when considering textiles for any Healthcare design project to research the pros and cons of the fabric you may be considering. Although vinyls are a popular selection for upholstery in healthcare environments, many people overlook the fact that many easily cleaned or flame retardant synthetic fabrics contain oils, plastics, and metals that are potentially harmful to patients’ health. According to Healthy Building Network in their study titled, “The Future of Fabric,” they credit films, plastics, and metals found in synthetic fibers to being the cause of many health concerns ranging from, “bronchial irritants to endocrine disruption and cancer.” However, due to advances in research, textile companies are offering fabrics that do not contain the harmful carcinogens and toxins found in products made of damaging plastics and metals. DesignTex is a company carrying a line titled, Continuum which is used for privacy curtains in hospitals. The line employs a technical nutrient in the fabric fiber known as an Eco-Intelligient Polyester that carries a Cradle to Cradle Gold Certification. Another great textile company that provides an alternative to destructive chemicals is Climatex. With their Lifeguard line designers can find upholstery fabrics that have great aesthetic patterns and still possess flame retardant qualities.
3. Offset Sink Drains
One well known company pioneering the way for research in Healthcare Design is Herman Miller. Not only is Herman Miller known for their beautiful furniture and modular systems, but their research regarding offset sink drains has been fundamental in improving healthcare facilities’ knowledge of design opportunities to cut back on HAI’s and the spread of bacteria. Herman Miller found that a large contribution to the spread of bacteria in hospital rooms comes from splashing water where doctors and nurses wash their hands. To reduce splatter Herman Miller developed a modular wall system called, Compass System that uses a sink with an offset drain. For hands free use and the elimination of spreading germs, the faucet has a sensor to regulate the water and its temperature. The edge of the basin in the sink is sloped to discourage items being set on the surface where dirty water often splashes. After a stimulation, researchers found that, “the features of the Compass System reduced splash by 65 to 75 percent compared to other sink and faucet combinations.” To discover more research beneficial to healthcare design and some of Herman Miller’s modular systems visit Herman Miller.
4. Noise Reduction Means Stress Reduction
A contributing factor to improving patients’ well-being is limiting noise. We do not often suspect noise to be a reason for slowing patients’ healing process but it can have a significant impact on stress levels and other health concerns. In the book titled Healing Spaces by Esther M. Sternberg, M.D., she credits several studies which suggest noise being so loud in hospitals that it, “increases heart rate, blood pressure, and other measures of stress” (Sternberg 218). It is shown that noise even effects sleep quality of those being hospitalized for longer periods of time. In fact, researchers at a Swedish hospital found that fewer patients were rehospitalized when proper acoustic-absorption tiles were installed. The high levels of noise in hospitals can be attributed to large numbers of people, reflective surfaces meant for easy cleaning, and lack of proper acoustics. A company that offers a solution to treating noise in healthcare environments is Certainteed’s Adagio ceiling systems. The line is supported by its fiberglass and mineral background for maximized sound absorption. To speed up recovery times in healthcare facilities it is suggested to use products with Class A sound absorption. Adagio has a Class A rating, is made of recycled content, has a light-reflectant surface and contributes toward LEED certification.
5. Biophilic Healthcare Design
One of the largest trends in healthcare design right now is the use of Biophilic design. Bipophilic design can be defined as the use of relating and connecting nature to interior environments. Over the past two decades extensive research has been conducted over Biophilic design and its benefits. Scientists, researchers, and doctors have found that one’s health can be dramatically improved by bringing nature into hospitals. Many current healthcare facilities such as the Anne and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago involve a design equipped with views of the outdoors, photos and artwork of nature, gardens, and waterscapes. It is believed that because our ancestors needed nature in order to survive, design that is connected or influenced by nature can have a great impact on stress levels and healing. As more evidence is found supporting Biophilic design’s Impact on Healthcare and patients’ well-being, more hospitals can be expected to start putting its design elements into practice in the future.