Medical Construction & Design

JUL-AUG 2016

Medical Construction & Design (MCD) is the industry's leading source for news and information and reaches all disciplines involved in the healthcare construction and design process.

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#1 Patient support The fi rst consideration with be- havioral healthcare design is the patient. Design should incorporate attributes that give the patient what he or she needs to be success- ful. These could include a healing environment with natural light, natural looking materials, organic shapes and soft lines. Color is key, as well, because certain colors adversely aff ect mood. Patients need a place that makes them feel safe both mentally and physically, and off ers a feeling of control over their surroundings so that they are comfortable letting down their guard and being an active par- ticipant in their own treatment. Facilities — whether stand- alone or part of a larger structure — should off er therapy spaces that suit large and small groups, as well as personal time. A large part of therapy comes not from the traditional one-on-one time with a therapist but from working within patient groups in a struc- tured conversation circle or during activities likes arts and crafts or light exercise. Complementing this emphasis on group work, the ability to have quiet time alone in a room with soft lighting and comfort- able furniture allows patients to contemplate their treatment. Giving patients access to nature and the outdoors for sunlight and fresh air whether during group activities or personal time will aid in decreasing stress. Depending on the site and building layout, this may be accomplished with small areas for each unit individually or a larger shared space. Weather protection should be considered. #2 Patient and staff safety Physical safety — of both the patient and the staff — is another important consideration. An envi- ronment that not only is safe, but feels safe, will reduce the stress felt by patients and the staff . This combination of real and perceived safety can be achieved by ensuring staff has full visibility of the unit, while avoiding an environment in which patients feel as though they are under constant surveillance. Incorporating design elements that eliminate potential hiding spaces is also important for staff DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS IN TODAY'S BEHAVIORAL HEALTH FACILITIES TOP 5 Rendering of an activity room. Facilities — whether standalone or part of a larger structure — should offer therapy spaces that suit large and small groups, as well as personal time. 48 Medical Construction & Design | J U LY/AUGUST 2016 | MCDM AG.COM BY SUSIE FESTEL As more organizations, institutions and estab- lishments are recognizing that mental health issues are, fi rst and foremost, health issues, more attention is being paid toward the facili- ties that off er behavioral health services. While many behavioral health services are off ered as part of a larger healthcare organization, a number of standalone psy- chiatric hospitals and mental health facilities are springing up across the country as well. Whether singular or part of a bigger organiza- tion, behavioral health spaces can incorporate specifi c design considerations that help to aug- ment patients' — and providers' — outcomes.

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