Awelcome trend is transforming the appearance of long-term care facilities, hospitals and most other healthcare related buildings. Structures that traditionally sported a bland and sterile look have now taken on an air of elegance. In fact, the average person walking into a newly constructed healthcare facility could be forgiven for thinking they entered a luxury hotel. This growing shift in the healthcare industry can be credited to the principles of evidenced-based design and the availability of building components, including doors and hardware, that combine superior product performance with sophisticated aesthetics.
Under the evidenced-based design movement, the recent trend in healthcare construction has been to create facilities that suggest hospitality rather than hospital. According to the Center for Health Design, evidence-based healthcare designs are used to create environments that are therapeutic, supportive of family involvement, efficient for staff performance and restorative for workers under stress.
The current school of thought is that evidence-based healthcare design should result in demonstrated improvements in a healthcare organization's clinical outcomes, economic performance, productivity, customer satisfaction and cultural measures. Hence the growing popularity of hospitals that appear more like hotels.
Evidence-based design seeks to create a therapeutic environment by eliminating visual stressors and emphasizing pleasant décor right down to the smallest details, including door hardware. This design principle does not override patient safety or lessen the strict security requirements of a hospital. But it does encourage facilities to seek out security and life-safety solutions that blend in with the rest of the décor.
Design-oriented door hardware can contribute to this desired setting. A brute looking lock could standout as a visual cue that a need exists for heightened security within the facility — a subconscious and unsettling reminder that danger lurks. Decorative locks, on the other hand, blend in with the building design motif and create the appearance of a free and more relaxed atmosphere.
So if a proximity card, for example, is required to gain entrance to a ward, the healthcare facility can eliminate obtrusive security devices by using a prox reader built into the hardware trim. The strict security requirements are still in place, but they are now hidden from sight or replaced with decorative trim.
Doorways in general, need special consideration to meet challenges found only in healthcare settings. Wide doors hung on swing-clear hinges are needed to create enough room for gurneys, beds and equipment carts to be easily wheeled through cross corridor doors and into and out of patient rooms. Push/pull latches, also known as hospital latches, allow healthcare personnel to access the patient room with a simple nudge from the body or gentle pull, which is an ideal feature for nurses or other workers carrying trays or armloads of supplies.
Protective plating is another necessity to prevent the doors from becoming nicked or scratched from wheeled carts, mops, brooms and general everyday use. Using scratch- resistant, low-pressure laminate doors can lend additional protection from abuse, while also providing a wider range of finishes from which to choose.
Long-term care challenges
A rapidly aging population has created greater demand for long-term care facilities. With this demand has come increased need for security products to meet the security and life-safety challenges unique to these facilities. Of all the hardware items used to address access and egress concerns, exit devices are arguably the most versatile and important.