Hospital patients are often fearful and confused and these feelings may impede recovery. Every effort should be made to make the hospital stay as non-threatening, comfortable, and stress-free as possible. The interior designer plays a major role in this effort to create a therapeutic environment. A hospital’s interior design should be based on a comprehensive understanding of the facility’s mission and its patient profile. The characteristics of the patient profile will determine the degree to which the interior design should address aging, loss of visual acuity, other physical and mental disabilities, and abusiveness.
Some important aspects of creating a therapeutic interior are:
- Using familiar and culturally relevant materials wherever consistent with sanitation and other functional needs
- Using cheerful and varied colours and textures, keeping in mind that some colours are inappropriate and can interfere with provider assessments of patients’ pallor and skin tones, disorient older or impaired patients, or agitate patients and staff, particularly some psychiatric patients.
- Admitting ample natural light wherever feasible and using colour-corrected lighting in interior spaces which closely approximates natural daylight.
- Providing views of the outdoors from every patient bed, and elsewhere wherever possible; photo murals of nature scenes are helpful where outdoor views are not available.
- Designing a “way-finding” process into every project. Patients, visitors, and staff all need to know where they are, what their destination is, and how to get there and return. A patient’s sense of competence is encouraged by making spaces easy to find, identify, and use without asking for help. Building elements, colour, texture, and pattern should all give cues, as well as artwork and signage.
- Cross-section showing interstitial space with deck above an occupied floor.