Insights from Steelcase Health research team found hospital rooms often lack the support for family members’ underlying needs and identified five key factors, which can influence the family experience, encourage more involvement and enhance patient satisfaction and outcomes.
- BLOCKED COMMUNICATION
With seats placed in a corner or against a wall on the other side of the room, the layout of most healthcare environments often makes it difficult for family members to view critical information and be active participants in the communication process. When better situated to participate, family members can share medical and dietary information, take notes and review test results, among other things. They are also more equipped to make a patient’s transition from hospital to home easier and help the patient follow discharge plans, which can prevent emergency room visits and hospital readmission.
- DIFFICULT SLEEPING CONDITIONS
Uncomfortable chairs, temporary cots, and in-room sleepers make it difficult for family members to stay comfortably with their loved ones overnight. Compromised sleep in an already exhausting and worrisome situation can wear on the family member and cause undue concern and feelings of guilt for the patient.
- NO PLACE TO SHARE A MEAL
Not wanting to leave a loved one’s side unnecessarily, family members will often opt to have meals and snacks together in the same room, despite healthcare institutions offering a cafeteria area. Existing inpatient environments force families to improvise with whatever furniture they can find in the patient room, lacking support for meal sharing.
- UNCOMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENT
Hospital environments are traditionally designed for the patient, with little regard for visitors. Limited furniture and storage room means spaces crowd easily and risk becoming dangerous if access to medical equipment is impeded.
- NOWHERE TO PLUG IN
Family members trying to maintain a semblance of daily routine often struggle to create ad hoc workspaces, impeded by a lack of access to light, power and supportive surfaces on which they can use their computers.