Rethinking Well-being in Private Practice
Well-being in private practice means looking after two sets of people – patients and employees. Before COVID-19, the focus was on looking after patients’ health and well-being. Now, there is a more holistic focus on both the patient and employee ‘experience’ from the moment they enter the building until they leave. Healthcare design company Evoke Projects shares the latest mental, physical and organisational health and well-being initiatives for private practices.
Mental and physical well-being
Healthcare design affects both patients and staff. The critical factor is to think beyond the waiting room and design a healthcare fit-out that nurtures and comforts all who enter. Patients often have a choice about which practice they visit, especially for radiology, imaging, testing, screening and allied healthcare services. Staff have a choice about where they work. A healthcare design that provides a positive experience clearly has business benefits beyond well-being.
Think about the sensory experience throughout the healthcare practice… sounds, smells, visual appeal and let’s not forget that innate sixth sense that will pick up on hygiene and COVID safety.
- Acoustics – clever space planning and choice of floor/wall materials during your next healthcare fit-out will make all the difference to the acoustic experience. Music can take the edge off harsh sounds and provide a comforting ambience for patients and staff. Letting customers listen to their own music during treatment will help them relax.
- Odour – air fresheners, opening windows and good ventilation systems will help to reduce smells.
- Visual – aim for a relaxing and comfortable vibe with calming colours such as muted blues, greens and purples. Soft furnishings throughout the healthcare fit-out will make the spaces feel more homely. Include staff-only areas in the healthcare interior design strategy.
- COVID safety – a modern healthcare design and fit-out is imperative to reassure patients that they are visiting a COVID-safe practice. Contactless check-in, touchless sanitiser, automatic doors, fresh air, cleanliness and well-spaced chairs in the waiting area are all reassuring for well-being.
Seating is very much horses for courses. Ergonomic seating for clinicians and administration staff will be important, particularly for the latter group who may sit for long periods. Patient seating should be easy to clean and maintain, but that does not mean hard and uncomfortable! Bright cushions can help find a nice balance. Mental healthcare private practices may offer family sessions – chairs and tables of different heights will make everybody more comfortable.
Biophilic healthcare design
- Improve air quality with an air filtration system, opening windows and natural plants. One plant for every ten metres is a good guide. Spider plants are low maintenance and look fantastic in pots or hanging baskets. Peace lilies are another easy interior plant.
- Artwork with pictures of animals, coastal scenery and rainforests are biophilic and can be very evocative.
- Increase the opportunity for views and natural daylight exposure in your next healthcare or medical fit-out. Window blinds and remote-control awnings offer the flexibility to have light without glare at different times of day.
- Natural textures make such a difference to healthcare interior design. If the budget is tight, consider wood-effect flooring and faux stone tiles.
- Recuperation and relaxation make us feel close to nature. Provide breakout spaces within the healthcare interior design so that clinicians can have some downtime during the work day.
Turning specifically to employee experience, forward-thinking private practices can nurture staff and attract new talent by implementing well-being programs. This could include subsidised gym memberships, rewards programs based on fitness goals or mental health ‘no-questions-asked’ leave days. Well-being programs are just as important as salary and promotion prospects to employees. In fact, a study reported that 37% of job candidates will accept a lower salary in exchange for a workplace with an appealing culture, facilities and technology.1
Working in healthcare can, of course, be very stressful. Encourage employees to focus on their mental health with mindfulness programs. Smiling Mind is one such program that offers mindfulness and meditation training, a workplace app and tools to support workplace culture.
Health and well-being start at the top for both the patient and employee experience. However, this article is about Rethinking Well-being in Private Practice, and it is more likely the employee experience that needs rethinking. The culture and leadership of a private practice make all the difference.
- Patient engagement technology (e.g., contactless check-in, appointment booking) takes some pressure off administration staff. With the phones running hot for vaccination appointments, early adopters of such technology have been breathing sighs of relief.
- Recognition. Clinicians and managers who take the time to give praise and recognition will build stronger relationships and engender loyalty in the practice. Asking staff for their ideas and feedback is another way of showing recognition because you are giving them a voice that is heard.
- Diversity and inclusion. Support all groups within the workplace with diversity and inclusion programs and training.
- 69% of businesses reported better employee satisfaction and engagement after implementing healthy building features.1 The WELL Building Standard is worth investigating to put WELLness into your practice.
Please call the healthcare design and fit-out experts at Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 for more information.
1. Hassell and Empirica Research cited in