7 The value of good healthcare design

Tasked to deliver more wellbeing in healthcare facilities, designers are looking to harness data on the ‘social value’ benefits of buildings to drive better outcomes. This was a key focus for a recent industry panel session, as James Parker reports


panel session staged recently by automatic door systems manufacturer GEZE saw healthcare design thought

leaders looking at how the scene is changing, and how social value as well as wellness is moving up the agenda. The panel consisted of Anis Abou-Zaki,

partner, Environmental Design and Sustainability at Foster + Partners, Tim Whitley, Building Services Engineering direc- tor at Arup Associates, Kelly Watson, senior consultant at Hatch Regeneris, and Will MacDonald, London regional director at Aecom and a facade engineering specialist. Chairing was Karen Sum, GEZE’s head of global account management. Among a variety of key themes covered

was the concept of ‘healing architecture,’ and how it can be achieved in the UK. Research studies have shown that healthcare buildings designed with ‘people-centric’ approaches in mind can have a positive effect on recupera- tion and recovery, as well as general health and wellbeing of users. The discussion, held on a boat moored on the Thames, was fittingly titled ‘Changing Tides in Healthcare’. A key subject for debate was how technology and data on the effect of buildings on users is being used more actively to show ‘social value’ and how this will form part of business cases for future facilities. While looking at the opportunities, and

examples of success however, panellists didn’t shy away from tackling the obstacles remaining to creating holistic facilities.

Wellbeing in new settings Karen Sum opened the discussion, saying the industry and the wider care sector “there was an increasing focus on wellness in many aspects of the economy”, but there was a “debate as to whether it should be seen as the same as healthcare.” She also speculated as to whether we are

“going to see a wider range of mixed facili- ties, as a lot more healthcare can be done at home,” and said that return on investment in facilities was a subject increasingly in focus


for a cash-strapped healthcare sector. Will MacDonald was critical of recent

funding vehicles such as PFI, saying “we are having to pay for a lot of mistakes we’ve made in the past,” to the extent that “we are not giving a lot of benefit in today’s market.” Tim Whitley said the industry “was at a

turning point,” with wellbeing “high on the agenda in every sector,” however adding that “the healthcare sector needs to catch up.” He said: “In the past, a lot of healthcare design was codified, standard solutions, and they’ve missed the softer side.” He cited Maggie’s Centres as exemplifying

human-centred design, although “niche,” and that the impact of “centres that are

© Richard Wakefield

The Social Value Act is a really interesting driver for adding value to projects

Kelly Watson, Hatch Regeneris

completely focused around individuals’ experience, which affects wellbeing outcomes, is really significant.” He added: “It’s a shame that some of the larger schemes don’t at the moment have the opportunity to


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