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Connection in Healthcare Workplaces is key

Connection in Healthcare Workplaces is key

Everyone has heard of FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. Humans are naturally social animals who value connections with fellow humans, and this is no different when we are at work. Healthcare design company Evoke Projects examines how social connections affect our performance at work and the patient experience. The team also shares the best medical fit-out strategies for improving connection in the workplace.

Better mental health and well-being

Research shows that 9 out of 10 Australians believe mentally healthy workplaces are important.1 Feeling connected is a strong contributor to positive well-being at work. It is also a part of our overall self-identity as work takes up so much of our lives.

Good social cohesion translates into better physical health because we know that stress and anxiety manifest physically through headaches, sleep problems and a weaker immune system. Psychology academics Shelly Gable and Courtney Gosnell write that close relationships are linked to health as they build certain biological systems that may protect against the adverse effects of stress.2

Higher engagement and better patient experience

Gable and Gosnell’s research found that in response to social contact, the brain releases oxytocin, a powerful hormone linked to trustworthiness and motivation to help others in the workplace.3 In healthcare settings, this motivation and engagement will benefit both co-workers and patients.

Melissa Perry from Cooleaf writes that engaged healthcare employees can benefit the practice through:

  • higher patient satisfaction rates
  • increased patient safety
  • improved quality of care
  • better financial performance
  • fewer malpractice suits.4

Another interesting Gallup poll of 200 hospitals found that a higher nurse engagement level resulted in lower patient mortality.5

Improved health outcomes

While it may seem obvious that a patient’s social connections will affect their health outcomes, there is evidence that a good rapport with the healthcare provider matters too.
Patients will experience less anxiety and are more likely to trust and follow the recommendations of an empathetic physician.6

Expert in social health and well-being Kasley Killam has these tips for primary carers:
Value patients by being nonjudgmental, seeing them as people instead of cases, and giving them your full attention.
Empower patients by educating them and engaging with them as partners.
Show commitment through caring actions and an ongoing, long-term relationship.7

Best healthcare design strategies to promote connection

The best healthcare design strategies will result in a medical fit-out that promotes social interaction. Everyone will benefit from a physical environment that is ‘better connected’.

The healthcare design team at Evoke Projects recommends:

  • A team based practice design to promote collaboration
  • White noise, acoustic partitions and soundproof zones to improve acoustics throughout the healthcare fit-out
  • Centralised technology spaces for printing and photocopying
  • Breakout areas, breakfast bars and lounge areas within the healthcare fit-out
  • Feature walls, inviting colours, phone charging outlets and biophilic design elements to encourage people to spend time in social spaces
  • Courtyards, rooftops and balconies for outdoor mingling

Food and drink are particularly important. We are our most sociable selves while sharing a meal or sipping a coffee. Larger healthcare practices can install a fully serviced café within the medical fit-out. Patients will also enjoy this space, bringing extra revenue to the practice. Smaller healthcare practices could create a homely staff kitchen with a good quality coffee machine, large fridge and comfortable seating.

Outside the practice, a lunchtime walking group, work trivia team or charity fundraiser can help people to get to know each other.

Please contact the healthcare designers at Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to find out more about ‘better connected’ healthcare designs and medical fit-outs.

citing State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia. TNS Social Research/Beyond Blue
citing Gable, S. L., & Gosnell, C. L. (2011). The positive side of close relationships. In K. M. Sheldon, T. B., Kashdan, & M. F. Steger (Eds.), Designing positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward (pp. 265–279). Oxford University Press.

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