Wellness practices reinvented
The last two years have been difficult for many industries, with wellness practices suffering from lockdowns, government restrictions and density limits. Healthcare fit-out company Evoke Projects looks at what you can do to stand out from the crowd and attract people back to your practice.
People have become more aware of their health during the pandemic, so the good news is that the wellness audience has increased. However, even when operating at full capacity, the close contact nature of health treatments has made COVID safety challenging. For practices that focus on health improvement, relaxation treatments, screening and preventative care, customers may delay appointments unless they have an urgent need. To overcome these worries, your healthcare practice design needs to appeal to people emotionally, practically and aesthetically.
Neuroarchitecture to the rescue
The science of neuroarchitecture is invaluable for medical fit-outs and designers. Layout, shapes, temperature, colour, smell and lighting come together to affect the mind. This is the case for all buildings, including the home, but it is arguably more important in medical and healthcare fit-outs.
“People might forget the details of how a space looks or what it did, but hardly anyone forgets how it made you feel or how it doesn’t make you feel.”
Architect Suchi Reddy1
Neuroarchitecture started after researcher Jonas Salk had a mental block and went on a holiday to Assisi, where he found the key to the discovery of the polio vaccine. He believed the design of the Italian city had provided the right surroundings to allow his ideas to flow. This led to a research centre being set up specially to encourage creativity amongst researchers.2 Neuroarchitecture has continued to explore how our brains respond to the built environment around us.
Neuroarchitecture in practice
As a real-world example of neuroarchitecture healthcare design, we can look at London-based architect Niall McLaughlin’s design for a respite centre for people with dementia. The challenge was to produce calm, coherent spaces which reduce enervating distraction, aid orientation and encourage mobility. The healthcare design includes interconnected pavilions incorporating social spaces, serene gardens and courtyards, through which patients may wander. Several pathways naturally loop back on themselves, always returning a person home again. 3
Design ideas for healthcare fit-outs include soft curves, texture or cushions to break up hard lines, minimalist design and light that supports people’s circadian rhythms.
Supportive healthcare design
Supportive healthcare design aims to remove stress and create a positive environment for patients. This includes COVID safety such as physical distancing, sanitisation stations and acoustic dampening for privacy and relaxation. Dawn Thornton, registered architect and senior associate of CBRE recommends visual cues to help lower decibel levels to create restful environments. She explains how a spa-like atmosphere, like a “restful colour palette found in nature along with soft patterns in flooring and wall treatments”, encourages soft speaking voices.4
Sound-absorptive materials for healthcare design include washable mineral fibre acoustical ceiling tiles, crushed glass, stone wool, perforated natural wood veneers and rubber flooring.5
Respite spaces for staff
Staff spend more time in the healthcare fit-out than patients. It is important not to overlook their mental health as they work longer hours than ever before and often must cover for absent colleagues.
Providing a respite space for healthcare and administration staff to take some downtime and recharge their batteries will pay dividends. A tranquil outdoor space with fresh air, natural light and plants is perfect. Inside, a calming space with biophilic artwork, music, snacks and comfortable seating away from the treatment areas will nurture the soul. Dimmable lighting indoors for a power nap or when it is dark outside will support circadian rhythms.
A culture that supports staff taking breaks is just as important as the respite space. A proper break is more than a cup of coffee! Also consider supporting staff with lifestyle assistance such as dry-cleaning services and post office runs.
For more information on wellness practice design, healthcare refurbishments and medical fit-outs, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.