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Dos and don’ts of nurse-friendly hospital design

Following from the news that poorly designed hospitals are having a deleterious effect on nurses' productivity, job satisfaction and career longevity, Nursing Review wanted to find out exactly what types of architectural and ergonomic features make and break it for this vital sector.

We spoke to Megan Reading, principal of architecture firm Hassell and an erstwhile intensive care nurse, to learn the must-know facets of hospital design for nurses:

"Good design takes effort and collaboration – nurses need to be involved in the design process and be given time to collaborate with designers to get the best outcomes," Reading said. "Staff need access to discrete respite spaces for tea breaks, which have good daylight access and preferably access to outdoors. Staff get limited time for breaks, so spaces need to be close to their workplace, otherwise time is lost waiting for lifts to get to a central staff cafeteria."

Reading said staff need access to education and to meeting spaces for in-service training and multidisciplinary team meetings so they feel part of an integrated healthcare delivery team.

Furthermore, she said, "support spaces such as storage areas and staff toilets need to be centrally located to reduce walking distances. Interior environments that have a high level of quality in their overall functionality and finish speak volumes about the regard given nurses working in these environments.

"Nursing as a vocation always puts patients first; what's called 'patient-centred care', Reading said. "To provide an environment that is contemporary and pleasant confirms the value of nurse’s work."

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