As anybody who has stayed in a hospital for longer than a night will understand, when you’re recovering from an illness or injury, your environment matters. But with purse strings pulled tight across the NHS, how can healthcare providers transform surroundings to promote wellness and health without breaking the bank?
When it comes to promoting healing and wellness, surroundings undoubtedly play an important role. Traditionally, us Brits used to head to the seaside to help us feel better, knowing that the sunshine and positive environment we were exposing ourselves to played a role in bettering our constitution and, ultimately, our health.
Fast-forward to the modern day, and this understanding is being applied to hospitals and care facilities across the country. We acknowledge that we must provide an environment which allows patients to heal, and discussions are ongoing around how best to produce this.
It’s not just patients who can benefit from a fresh approach to hospital surroundings, either. A recent article from the Guardian shed light on the effect hospitals have on their staff, particularly on their ability to do a good job. Without the right environment, hospital staff are prone to feeling uncomfortable, making mistakes, and being weighed down by the pressure of their surroundings.
What Makes a Healing Environment?
Gone are the days when doctors prescribed a spot of sunshine and the sound of the waves to clear up an illness – no matter how relaxing that might sound. Instead, we have to look at more practical solutions for the hospital environment and how to make it better – whilst keeping within the confines of the NHS’ falling budgets.
To help, we’ve identified four key areas where hospitals can create a healing environment:
Although difficult to control, as a hospital is a communal space, there are measures which can be taken to decrease the amount of noise travelling between wards to allow more restful sleep for patients and better concentration for staff.
Effective use of windows and blinds allows wards to be filled with natural light, making all the difference. We already know from research and recent design trends that natural light in the home is good for us, so it makes sense to extend that thinking to a locale where every individual is actively trying to get better.
This is already an area being taken seriously following outbreaks of MRSA a few years ago, and it’s one that directly affects how quickly people can recover. Whilst most hospitals have this sorted, it doesn’t hurt to re-evaluate procedures and the depth of cleaning in order to create a healthy environment.
Although it sounds like an unusual factor in hospital surroundings, how equipment and furnishings stand up to everyday use is important. For staff, when either breaks, the situation can become stressful fast – and that’s before extra costs to repair or replace are considered. It can also create the feeling that the workplace is failing them, affecting morale and performance. For patients, they can feel unsafe and form a poor opinion of their surroundings, causing anxiety and slowing down the healing process.
The latter of these factors, durability, is particularly of interest to James Robertshaw. In helping the North West’s biggest NHS trust, our team gained invaluable insight into what makes an environment that actively promotes healing. This was especially true at the Royal Oldham hospital, where blinds were being damaged under the weight of constant use by staff and patients.
Replacing blinds, however, was impinging on the trust’s already tight budget, and was directly affecting the hospital environment. Without an off-the-shelf solution to help them, they turned to James Robertshaw. We created a bespoke blind capable of withstanding hospital life, made from anti-bacterial fabrics, metal instead of plastic, and an anti-ligature operating chain.
Wellness for All
After installing the bespoke blinds in the women’s and children’s development, staff found a new confidence in their durability, and the cost saving meant that they could be rolled out across the trust – allowing us to play our part in building healthy surroundings for all patients.
Despite the current budget crisis squeezing the NHS, it’s positive to see that actions like Royal Oldham’s are still taking place across various trusts and developments, to ensure that their hospitals promote wellness and healing.
By embracing a few small, affordable changes, it’s entirely possible to provide patients with the environment they need to feel better in no time at all – and to help staff to continue with their fantastic work. It may not be a prescribed visit to the seaside, but it will surely help many patients.
James Robertshaw doesn’t just provide bespoke blinds for hospitals – read our other case studies to find out more about our work with different industries. Got a question? We’re happy to answer them; simply get in touch!