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mental health & dementia
News - November 2018
Lighting for better healthcare
Expansive hospital wards with row upon row of beds are becoming a thing of the past.
In an attempt to limit risk of infection, and enhance the patient experience; single patient rooms are now dominating hospital design.
While these rooms create a comfortable space, offering privacy and aiding recovery; the range of patient needs creates a challenge when specifying lighting solutions.
It is clear that a very simple homelike on-and-off option is needed by many patients.
And patients in acute care rooms are often in a condition where controlling lights might be difficult and learning how to control them is not top of their priority list.
While some may need voice control, others may want to adjust everything according to their needs, for example by using a tablet or smartphone.
No matter how the lighting is controlled, research overwhelmingly tells us that it matters.
Many healthcare tasks are done while the patient is lying in bed at different angles, meaning lighting which might be good at some angles is inappropriate at others.
And the range of users, their working positions and tasks, makes single patient rooms the most challenging to design.
Research tells us that patients staying in hospitals for long periods can benefit from an integrated control display that compliments circadian lighting rhythms.
To make this more complex, there is often a need to adjust the conditions - lighting, temperature, ventilation etc - from outside the room, such as at nursing stations.
Controlling the situation
Using remote-controlled technology, clinical staff can adjust light and sensor parameters over time and tune lights depending on individual patient needs.
Lighting controls can also play an important part in ensuring the health and safety of patients.
Quick-response lighting, for example, will trigger full-power lighting in emergency situations and becomes particularly important in the event of a fire when patients need to be guided to nearby exits.
In addition, lighting and lighting-related sensors can be used for giving notifications or alerts to clinical staff.
This includes clinical staff being alerted when lights are turned on as the sensors pick up movement; or when they’ve gone off because the patient has been still for too long.
This innovation in lighting controls can put crucial information in the hands of medical professionals, not only creating the correct environment for health and wellbeing; but monitoring movement.
But large multi-bed wards have not yet been completely phased out and this standard of hospital design will not be disappearing overnight.
The challenge now lies in flipping the status quo and supporting patient wellbeing and their ability to exercise their own autonomy in controlling their environment.
Into the future
When specifying systems, it’s important to ask, ‘who is controlling the general lighting’?
It is unpleasant to be disturbed in the middle of the night because another patient requires lighting to use the bathroom or receive emergency treatment.
These disturbances, while unavoidable in round-the-clock patient care, can have an impact on the patient experience as a whole.
The task of lighting controls is to limit these disturbances so that each patient feels they have their own space while using a shared space.
Lighting solutions in multi-patient wards should, therefore, be zoned in a way that the lighting at one bed can be blocked from disturbing others.
Automation should take care of fine tuning the lights and sensor parameters in a way that accidental light bursts would happen very rarely.
But what does this mean for the future?
Research shows clearly how the comfort of a single patient room greatly improves the patient experience.
While they greatly reduce the risk of infection, they also increase patient satisfaction.
However, as hospitals deal with a mass of diverse patients daily, the building design simply cannot provide individual accommodation for all who stay.
So using lighting controls in large, communal hospital wards can limit the negative effects.
As lighting specialists we research the impact of lighting on real life, looking in to how it effects mood, wellbeing and, most importantly, health.
The end goal is to light hospitals so that every patient feels comfortable and well supported in a private space that they can adjust to suit them.