When it comes to design within medial facilities that offer services such as psychological treatment interior design elements are more important than you think.
Although we may not realise it our environment has the ability to affect our emotions and general well-being which is why it is important to get it right from the get go when designing in a psychological environment.
There are certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to mental health clients and it is of the upmost importance that patients are made to feel comfortable from the second they walk in the door of your clinic.
Put time into selecting your waiting/ consult room furniture. Not only should your seating be comfortable but it also needs to be practical.
An easy way to make sure everyone gets a seat that is comfortable for them (and their body) is to alternate with the option of arms and no arms, this gives additional space on some chairs and additional leverage support to others.
Research Colour. Colour plays a huge role in medical settings and are an integral part of any clinic. Shades of blue and green are said to be both productive and calming whereas colours such as red or orange can be seen as aggressive and not appropriate within a clinic setting.
Understand the light. Natural light gives any space the feeling of brightness, openness and warmth so try to make sure windows are free of drawn blinds or dark drapes within waiting and consult rooms where possible.
Artificial light also plays it’s part within a clinic setting. Adjustable lighting that can be catered to your patients preference ensures they are comfortable and at ease during their appointment.
A good distraction. Sometimes certain topics or discussions may bring up feelings of vulnerability to a patient and therefore requires the need for a quick break. By providing positive distractions such as colourful artwork, an area away from the consulting room or even toys can give your patient the few minutes they may need in order to continue their session in a positive manner.
Create clutter. Try to keep your reception/ waiting area and consult rooms as spacious as possible. An untidy space can cause a sense of anxiousness for a lot of people as can a space that seems closed in due to clutter. You want your patients to feel comfortable when they walk into your clinic, not have a sense of being trapped.
Restrict movement. When it comes to selecting waiting and consult room seating it is important to make sure the style is right. Where possible do not use fixed seating, you want your patients to have the freedom of moving their chair around when they feel the need. Also try to keep a sense of similarity in the chairs patients are sitting on and you, as the therapist, are using to give the sense that you are both equal.
In saying that though there are a couple of things to be cautious of. Try to select chairs with sled bases instead of legs. If a circumstance arises where a patient is aggravated you do not want to give them the option of turning their chair into a weapon.
Be unavailable. Neglected waiting rooms with no available receptionist on arrival can give the feeling that the expected level of care may not be there. When designing your psychology clinic layout make sure any shared reception and admin areas are open plan where possible so there is always someone in view to greet anyone walking in the door.
As this type of medical environment requires understanding, compassion and trust a beautiful, relaxing and tranquil environment can help immensely and it is well worth putting the additional time and money into creating the perfect practice for not only your patients but also you and your staff.