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News archive - March 2018
A new life, a new approach
Healthcare environments have come under the spotlight in recent years, with a much-greater emphasis on using design to improve and enhance the experience for patients, staff and visitors.
Maternity units have a very-particular function - to support mums-to-be and their partners to deliver their babies and to provide support for mother and baby post birth.
However a woman is going to deliver - whether naturally or by surgical intervention - the environment in which they, their partners, and their babies, stay is hugely important and can have a very-positive, or very-negative, effect on the whole birthing experience.
Cristina Tegalo, a designer at IBI Group, recently worked on the new mother and baby unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital.
Speaking to hdm, she explains: “Increasingly, hospitals want to make maternity and post-natal units a home-from-home environment for families.
“Some people will spend a long time there, so it’s about ambience and creating a less-clinical-looking environment for mother, baby, and visitors.”
Central to the design at Glan Clwyd was an environment that would look bright and fresh, but would also be durable and easy to clean.
It needed to offer peace and quiet and maintain a certain temperature, so acoustics and heating and cooling were important considerations at the outset of the design phase.
A domestic feel to furnishings and fixtures is also proving increasingly popular, although products are primarily specified on how they meet industry guidelines as set out in Health Building Note 09-02: Maternity care facilities.
On the issue of design, it states: “Whatever the setting and model of care, the main objective is to provide for the safe care of both mother and baby in a comfortable, relaxing environment that facilitates what is a normal physiological process, enabling self-management in privacy whenever possible, and enhances the family’s enjoyment of an important life event.
“In all units, rooms should be designed to give women choice and control over their labour and birth, to normalise the process and welcome family participation.”
Telago adds: “Modern units have somewhere where partners can stay overnight and flexible areas for family members, including siblings.
“Waiting areas are designed for comfort and the safety of babies is paramount, with monitoring systems being built into the wards.
“Even fixtures and fittings like window sills, ironmongery and washbasins are specified with careful consideration to key drivers such as hygiene.”
Light and clean
Traditionally, flooring in maternity units has been specified because it’s easy to clean, with little thought for aesthetics.
But this is changing.
At Glan Clwyd Forbo’s Sphera Element flooring was chosen.
These homogeneous vinyl sheets were laid throughout the unit and hand cut to create eye-catching butterfly designs.
The ability to personalise flooring and other building products in this way is becoming popular in specialist departments such as maternity units and children’s wards.
Forbo’s Julie Haake said: “Vinyls are popular as they offer a smooth finish, look light and modern, and are easy to clean.
“In light and modern grey and taupe shades, they create a much-more-homely environment rather than looking too clinical like traditional blues and greens.”
International research has shown that, for mothers-to-be, the main priorities in terms of the environment are cleanliness, comfortable furniture, control over lighting and temperature, access to birthing aids such as birthing pools, and privacy.
They also want to be moved as little as possible, so product designers are increasingly being urged to come up with ranges that are flexible.
For example, Sidhil’s range by Drive Devilbiss includes Chrysalis birthing beds which are equipped to manage all stages of childbirth and configured to help women maintain more-natural positions during labour and birth.
Stryker’s LD304 Birthing Bed is described as ‘a delivery partner’ as it not only offers comfort for mums-to-be, but also helps to prevent strain and injury among healthcare staff.
And the Affinity Four birthing bed from Hill-Rom aims to provide a better birthing experience through a number of special features including a stow-away foot section, calf supports, a built-in IV pole cradle, and automatic pelvic tilt function.
The needs of birthing partners are also being considered, with a plethora of new seating designs that act as bedside chairs and fold-down beds for overnight stays.
These include Ocura’s Readybed Sleeper Chair, the Orient from Apollo Healthcare, and Knightbridge Furniture’s Shangrila Chair Bed.
“It’s about considering the patient pathway and looking at how the environment, and the choice of products used in that environment, can support the process and enhance the experience for everyone involved,” said Telago.