In this first part of a three-part series on incorporating family into the patient room, authors Hannah Jefferies and Jennifer Merchant of Perkins+Will discuss the core concepts of the model and introduce a project at Rush University Medical Center, where that model was used.

"One of the key things that one realizes in training is that we very often treat whole family units. When you are treating persons who have elements of frailty, their loved ones become all the more critical to their care and to plans that help move patients toward better health. Thus supporting families/loved ones to feel at place in the clinical environments helps develop better plans that have more chance of successful implementation with our patients," according to Dr. Anthony J. Perry, MD, clinical transformation officer at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, a non-profit organization founded in 1992, defines patient- and family-centered care as “an approach to the planning, delivery, and evaluation of healthcare that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among healthcare providers, patients, and families. Patient- and family-centered practitioners recognize the vital role that families play in ensuring the health and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and family members of all ages.” (Source: The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care)

The core concepts of this model of care are as follows:

Respect and dignity. Healthcare practitioners listen to and honor patient and family perspectives and choices. Patient and family knowledge, values, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds are incorporated into the planning and delivery of care.

Information sharing. Healthcare practitioners communicate and share complete and unbiased information with patients and families in ways that are affirming and useful. Patients and families receive timely, complete, and accurate information in order to effectively participate in care and decision-making.

Participation. Patients and families are encouraged and supported in participating in care and decision-making at the level they choose.

Collaboration. Patients and families are also included on an institution-wide basis. Healthcare leaders collaborate with patients and families in policy and program development, implementation, and evaluation; in healthcare facility design; and in professional education, as well as in the delivery of care. (Source: The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care)

Using the Rush University Medical Center new hospital building—slated for completion in early 2012—as a case study, we can examine how the basic tenets of patient- and family-centered care can be incorporated into the design of hospital buildings. As designers, it is critical for us to recognize the vital role that the family can play as part of the care delivery team to help aid in the patient’s healing process. The family’s involvement in the patient’s care can ultimately help to shape the floor plan of the unit as well as the design of the patient room. Don't miss Part 2 of this series for details on how family was incorporated into the design at Rush University Medical Center.

Hannah Jefferies, MFA, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C, EDAC, is a registered interior designer at Perkins+Will in Chicago. She can be reached at Jennifer Merchant, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C, EDAC, is an associate at Perkins+Will in Chicago. She can be reached at

Photo credit: ©Perkins+Will, 2011