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Posted on Jan 6, 2013

Designing Space to Heal

Designing Space to Heal

It seems obvious that one of the primary needs of a patient is to feel comfortable. Yet in many cases, the comfort of the patient seems to take a backseat to budget constraints or simple lack of creativity. The greatest challenge in designing spaces for healthcare is meeting the sometimes competing needs of the patient, the family, the caregiver and the administrator. The opportunity for innovation lies in that sweet spot where needs overlap, according to Gianfranco Zaccai, co-founder of the design consultancy firm Continuum.

Designing a better experience for not only patients, but for all parties involved in patient healing requires empathy. And empathy requires conversations, lots of them. The designers at Herman Miller Healthcare spoke with 200 caregivers, patients, and other support personnel to find out what works and what doesn’t. Those conversations led to the creation of the Nala chair, an innovative chair that dramatically improves a patient’s healthcare experience. The team at Continuum wanted Nala “not only to feel comfortable physically for patients, but also to be comfortable in an emotional sense. For caregivers, we felt a patient chair should not add complexity to their work. They are rushed and overworked, so they can’t stop to think through the features of a chair.”

A patient chair is certainly an important example of how good design can improve the healthcare experience. But the best healing spaces bring every aspect of patient care together cohesively. Herman Miller’s Healthcare Experience Center in West Michigan provides design teams with an unequaled opportunity to collaborate with healthcare experts as they take on the challenge of designing hospitals and other healing spaces.

Customers are encouraged to interact with and experiment with products. The center was designed with plenty of hands-on experiences, from the chance to try the Oasis overbed table while lying in bed to rearranging the modular tiles of the Compass System. In settings from waiting rooms, to patient rooms, as well as laboratories, visitors see real solutions to their problems, and are inspired to think about their work in a new way.

Don’t miss our “To Your Health” board on Pinterest. You’ll see examples of some lovely healthcare design solutions.




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