What effect does design have on the positive outcomes of inpatient behavioural health patients?
We must look at the science of evidence-based design and understand that the environment contributes to patient recovery and outcomes. Roger Ulrich* is a well-known researcher from Gothenburg, Sweden, that has published influential studies on the subject that are worth reading. A google search will bring up some of his publications, such as "Psychiatric ward design can reduce aggressive behaviour," and others that show the value of design in patient outcomes. Here are some basic principles to follow that will turn into greater depth, as considered.
- Single patient rooms with private bathrooms give a sense of autonomy, reducing the institutional feel.
- The room's layout should have ample space for controlled and healthy interactions with others.
- Stress can be induced through sound and visuals, triggering patient outbursts. We need to control these senses through design with acoustic treatment and the absence of any triggering colours, shapes or images.
PROVIDE POSITIVE DISTRACTIONS
- Nature provides us with a fantastic plethora of calming visuals that are often not considered. The studies mentioned above discuss the value of nature views, trees and daylight control that the evidence points out as clinically effective and beneficial. Product innovations available today make this possible without risking ligature or violence.
- Communal areas, bedrooms and central spaces should have clear visual lines to prevent any aggressive behaviour from going unnoticed.
The research is conclusive and thorough, yet many facilities today lean toward institutional design cues and miss out on positive healing environments. In the last ten years, the industry has changed from a mental health seclusion room that possibly exasperated aggressive behaviour to normalized behavioural health rooms with innovations that allow patients to feel human and destigmatized.
Although the percentage of violent mental health cases is low, it only takes one extreme case to turn violent and cause a serious incident. The challenge is that you never know who that person might be, so the design will often lean either towards taking risks with design or the opposite extreme and make all areas feel institutional.
In today's world, it is no longer necessary to choose between risk or institutional design as significant innovations provide anti-ligature, tamper proof and all the safety measures and look beautiful! Patients can be treated in humane environments without risking safety, including the ability to have curtains, hang their clothes up and inviting furniture! Stat Medical Inc specializes in these products on our website, www.statmedicalcanada.com.
In conclusion, a humane, safe and warm environment is possible for mental health spaces and has proven to improve patient outcomes and reduce patient aggression. It's safer for both the patient and the caregivers alike.