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News archive - March 2014

And then there was light!

And then there was light!

Nearly every physical environment you find yourself in will have lighting of some sort of another. But, in healthcare environments, such systems are vital, both to ensure doctors can carry out examinations properly and, just as importantly, to provide an enhanced patient experience.

Key drivers which have seen lighting upgrades carried out at thousands of organisations up and down the country include the Government’s order to reduce carbon emissions in the NHS by 80% by 2050. This has led to the widescale procurement of energy-saving lighting systems, most notably LED technology.

Dan Scott, commercial director at Philips, which supplies lighting to the NHS, explains: “The role of light, and in particular light emitting diode (LED) lighting, is becoming more and more important to hospitals and healthcare facilities as they seek to reduce both energy and carbon in order to achieve government targets.

“While the need to save money might be the initial driver for considering an upgrade to LED; the endless possibilities this technology provides means greater consideration is now put on the design possibilities enabled.”

The impact on carbon emissions can be huge, making LED lighting one of the most-popular interventions for trusts looking for a relatively cheap solution that offers quick payback, often within just two years.

Michael Morrison, managing director of Crescent Lighting, said: “Creating retrofit solutions which can cost-effectively replace conventional and inefficient HID and fluorescent lighting with LEDs rated for 50,000 hours lamp life is an increasingly key consideration.

For example, in a typical LED retrofit tube application, an Energy Focus 18W 130 lm/W LED tube will provide an estimated 70% savings in energy costs over fluorescent. Furthermore, the emission savings per 175W HID lamp replaced with a retrofit 52W LED is 70%.”

A long life

This longer lifecycle means LED lighting is easier to maintain, an important consideration for estates and facilities managers. They are also an attractive proposition as they can easily be retrofitted into existing buildings.

Morrison said: “The non-invasive design of LEDs allows existing lighting fixtures and fittings to be retained, which enables faster installation and no impact on the surrounding building fabric or architecture. This approach offers facilities managers the additional flexibility and cost savings of migrating to LED on a phased basis, making the introduction of LED lighting part of ongoing relamping within planned and pre-budgeted annual maintenance programmes.”

Particularly useful in terms of reducing carbon are modern presence detection and automatic dimming technologies – often part of modern lighting packages - which enable 24/7 operations like hospitals to make savings by turning off lights when they are not needed. Presence detection is particularly popular in corridors and other areas where footfall can differ greatly at different times of the day.

“Energy-efficient lighting and controls will start to yield benefits right away in terms of reduced energy bills and ongoing maintenance costs, potentially freeing up funding to reinvest into patient care,” said Scott.

As well as the potential to save hundreds of thousands of pounds in energy bills and maintenance, good lighting is vital to clinical care as, in areas such as operating theatres and examination rooms, poor lighting could have a detrimental effect on diagnoses.

Healing well

A spokesman for Bender UK, which manufactures surgical lighting for hospital operating theatres, added: “Modern light arrays expose every detail of the surgical field, illuminating it from multiple angles to banish shadows and blind spots. Lightweight and mobile, they can be repositioned in an instant to optimise lighting coverage, and major gains in energy efficiency mean running costs are lower than previously thought possible.”

In addition, good lighting is increasingly being recognised as integral to the overall healing process, with a number of research studies being carried out around the world to accurately gauge the impact of light on patient satisfaction and even recovery rates.

A 12-month trial of Philips’ HealWell lighting solution at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlans found cardiac patients slept on average 10% longer and fell asleep 30% more quickly when treated on a ward fitted with HealWell lighting.

The solution mimics the natural day/night cycle in line with research showing that high levels of light during the day can help to regulate the human biological clock and sleep-wake rhythm. If a person’s biorhythm is less than optimum, scientists say this can disrupt sleep and give rise to a number of health problems.

Scott said: “Light also has an amazing effect on people – visually, biologically and emotionally. Used effectively in healthcare facilities light can enhance the patient experience, creating a more-inviting and relaxing space.”

Among the many hospitals where LED lighting solutions have made a difference are Yeovil District Hospital, which benefitted from an Exled low-energy solution on its wards, kitchens, lift lobbies, corridors, women’s hospital and offices, as well as some of the external walkways; and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, which has deployed Brandon Medical’s Quasar HD-LED operating theatre lights to enhance paediatric surgery.

Another consideration when it comes to the design of modern lighting solutions is how easy they are to clean.

Beating the bugs

A spokesman at Starkstrom, which is one of a number of companies to make infection prevention and control key to product design, said: “Infection Control is a key battleground and concern for every hospital. As a UK manufacturer, we are committed to supporting the healthcare sector by focusing product design and development to reduce the potential for infections. These products are packed full of infection-fighting innovations, and ensure the operating room or critical care area remain a bacteria and virus-unfriendly zone.

“Our lighting range can also be controlled remotely via the wipe-clean eTCP, or directly by the surgeon using the Sensogrip controls, so fewer staff – and the bacteria that accompany them - need to enter the clean zone.”

Scott concludes: “A hospital consists of many different types of spaces, from car parking areas to wards and offices. These areas have different requirements that need to be considered when it comes to lighting. For example, it’s important for a reception area to make a good first impression and create a welcoming environment, whereas in corridors there is great emphasis on guidance, visibility and dimming possibilities.”

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