Healthcare design and the power of empathy

Wednesday, 12 July, 2023

Healthcare design and the power of empathy

The construction of Redlands Satellite Hospital has been completed with work now underway to equip and prepare the facility ahead of an official opening later in the year.

The hospital will have the capacity to deliver each week: walk-in care for up to 490 patients for minor injuries and illnesses, 144 renal dialysis treatments, 90 chemotherapy treatments and 280 outpatient appointments. The facility also features medical imaging and diagnostic services, including ultrasound, X-ray and pathology.

Redlands Satellite Hospital is one of seven new satellite hospitals that will support healthcare delivery in communities across South East Queensland. It hopes to take pressure off emergency departments and major hospitals in the region and help meet the increasing demand for services we’re seeing in this growing community. It will work in tandem with the expansions underway at Redlands hospital, including a 28-bed modular ward expansion and Stage 1 Major Hospital Expansion, delivering 37 extra beds and a new ICU.

Priscilla Radice, Deputy Director-General Health Capital Division, Queensland Health, said, “The seven satellite hospitals being delivered across the southeast corner are being designed by Conrad Gargett through a single design philosophy to promote patient comfort and wellbeing.”

The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and hospital design is no exception, Radice said. “There is a lot of work being done to redefine clinical hospital settings, with new technologies and trends emerging all the time and a keen focus on designing facilities that prioritise patient care, staff satisfaction and operational efficiency.”

Christopher Hall-Jordan, Senior Associate Conrad Gargett, said, “The complexity of designing a single solution for differing topography, climates and varying site conditions, as well as the varied service offerings required by the different Hospital and Health Service user groups, provided an opportunity to develop a new robust yet flexible framework.

“The architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and wayfinding and signage of each site are united by a clear human-centred design philosophy, guiding principles and a collection of design strategies.

“The seven healthcare facilities are guided by a single design philosophy that prioritises empathy for patients and families, and support the complex needs of the healthcare professionals.

“The architecture and interior design guiding principles redefine the clinical hospital setting through the gaze of a personal experience rather than that of a patient — first considering the user’s journey, a connection to nature and community, and the context in which each facility is sited,” Hall-Jordan said.

The guiding principles are clarified through a collection of 10 design strategies that are manipulated to fit each site, responding to site conditions and the varied functional requirements for each facility. These strategies include: landscaped transitions, central courtyards, warm handovers, open site lines, buffered building edges, H-shaped building layout, articulated roof and daylighting, sheltered thresholds and shading, considered materiality and site-specific contextual reference.

“Conrad Gargett has delivered a purpose-built environment that will positively impact health outcomes and support the delivery of public healthcare,” Radice said, noting that as infrastructure design in the health landscape continues to evolve, we will see more health services adopting these innovative approaches.

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