Commercial Architecture May 2017 - 9
uch has been said about the patient ex-
perience in healthcare settings. Until
recently, less has been said about the
caregiver experience, but that's currently changing. In
fact, many think the two are not mutually exclusive.
Milly Baker, AIA, LEED AP, ACHA, senior associ-
ate, Payette architects, Boston, related having managed
a facilities department at a teaching hospital where it
was not unusual for senior staff with tremendous responsibility (such as an ICU nurse manager) to have a
75-sq.-ft. windowless office on a unit with inadequate
teamwork space and depressing break space.
"Staff are under tremendous pressure; they are caring for families during often tragic situations where
mental and physical strength and endurance are at a
Focusing attention on the needs of caregivers
benefits patients and healthcare staff.
premium. Nurses work in challenging physical environments where facilities often fall short on supporting the needs of the staff," she said.
Baker continued, "Emerging research has quantified the relationship between environmental factors
Kenneth W. Betz, Senior Editor
and productivity. There are tremendous advantages to
designing better spaces for staff in measurable gains in
reducing sick days, improved job retention, and fewer
mistakes. But the forces against expanding and improving staff spaces are also strong. The overall high
cost of building construction ($1,000/sq. ft. in the
Boston area), combined with competing project priorities, means that space is always a scarce resource and
daylight often emphasized for patient and family spaces. To preserve quality spaces for staff, senior administration must recognize the need and the consequences
of design decisions.
"There are many opportunities for improvement,"
Baker said. "If identified and prioritized from the beginning, staff space can be appropriately sized and
placed. The leading concerns for staff are respect, security, collaboration space, respite, and the ability to offset grief and stress with diversions."
"Respect begins the list because staff look for acknowledgment that they are being given the right tools
to perform their jobs successfully, and the right tools
include appropriate work space which provides some
level of privacy. At the very least, staff should have access to a place to [store] their personal things, whether
an office or a locker," Baker said.
A panel of architects with Tsoi/Kobus & Associates, Cambridge, MA, expanded the definition of caregiver to family members, significant others, and the
clinical care team.
"In terms of the built environment, considerable
attention has been devoted to improving the caregiver
experience at multiple levels. Within the patient room,
designated patient, family, and staff zones are provided
to allow each party to have a sense of place and privacy, control their immediate environment, and work in
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