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through the eyes of a child:


Why hospitals designed for children need to be special places By Jonathan Wilson, Principal and Healthcare Leader, Anshen+Allen, London, UK


Fig 1


children are not small adults. children are unique individuals with specialised needs’


number of key respects. An understanding and appreciation of these differences sets the scene for a deeper understanding of how we can craft hospital environments for children, young people and their families to promote a sense of normality and connectedness with the ‘real’ world. To achieve this, designers need reliable evidence about the subjective experience of this patient group in hospital environments – what makes them scary, different age needs, how to include the whole family, dealing with separation, creating a home away from home, and the role of play and learning. Working from this conceptual framework and armed with sound experiential evidence, those who commission and design children’s hospitals will together create more responsive environments leading to improved outcomes.


C


hildren’s hospitals are special and different from general hospitals and other specialty hospitals in a


WHAt is sPeciALABoUt cHiLdren’s HosPitALs? The National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI) is a US organisation committed to achieving better care and outcomes for hospitalised children through research and evidence based design. NACHRI publication ‘Evidence for Innovation’ argues that the successful care of children requires extra time, extra monitoring, specialised medications, and caregivers with specialised skills and compassion. Whilst NACHRI’s studies did not investigate physical environments per se, the conclusions have important consequences for design. So the care of children demands a


unique set of care strategies within dedicated hospital environments. Children’s hospitals are special places, differing greatly from general acute hospitals and other specialty hospitals.


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