Healthy design principles to underpin healthcare performance

27-Jun-2022

REHAU guide highlights an opportunity to instil healthy design principles for all healthcare projects

REHAU's research highlights a number of key considerations for healthy design in hospitals, doctors' surgeries and care homes, including ventilation, temperature control, acoustics, and the provision of drinking water

REHAU's research highlights a number of key considerations for healthy design in hospitals, doctors' surgeries and care homes, including ventilation, temperature control, acoustics, and the provision of drinking water

Incorporating ‘fundamentally healthy design principles’ for NHS buildings will be key to upholding the provision of quality healthcare, according to a report from REHAU.

This warning follows the publication of a new poll by the NHS Confederation, which found that 90% of health leaders believe ageing building stock is posing a risk to patient safety and impeding waiting list recovery.

Steve Richmond, head of marketing and technical at REHAU Building Solutions, said: “The NHS Confederation’s latest poll serves to confirm concerns highlighted by our recent guide, Designing Healthy Healthcare – namdely that ageing building stock is having a knock-on effect for the provision of healthcare.

“Going forwards, incorporating healthy design principles from the get-go will be key to ensuring that health estates are able to function effectively well into their lifespan.

“Only through adopting this approach can the sector ensure that occupant wellbeing is not encroached upon further down the line.”

The NHS Confederation poll highlights a lack of capital investment over the past decade as a key reason for the deterioration of building stock.

Going forwards, incorporating healthy design principles from the get-go will be key to ensuring that health estates are able to function effectively well into their lifespan

However, with the Government pledging £3.7billion for the construction of 40 new hospitals by 2030, REHAU believes there is an opportunity to instil healthy design principles going forwards.

Designing Healthy Healthcare forms part of a four-guide series that also spans apartments, hotels, and educational buildings.

Within the guides, REHAU surveyed 520 M&E designers and architects working across these sectors to how evaluate how attitudes to healthy building design have changed in the face of other growing market challenges.

It found that:

  • 98% of respondents said they would be willing to pay extra for a product that had a longer expected lifespan
  • More than 70% said the average lifespan of M&E solutions fitted in healthcare environments needs to increase
  • 44% of respondents said that wellbeing is ‘often’ value-engineered out of a building’s design at a later stage, while 32% said that it ‘always’ happens
  • Government-led incentives will be key to reducing carbon emissions from heating and cooling in healthcare
  • More than 70% said demand for district heating will rise over the next five years
  • Sustainability is the top priority for those specifying and installing solutions in healthcare environments
  • The noise generated in facilities is a growing concern and more needs to be done to protect patients from exposure to unwanted noise
  • Respondents believed the accepted acoustic level in healthcare environments will lower in the coming years

The guide also highlights a number of key considerations for healthy design in hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, and care homes to ensure building and occupant wellbeing.

This includes facility ventilation, temperature control, acoustics, and the provision of drinking water.

The document states: “Perhaps more than any other market, healthcare faces the greatest building-related challenges.

“On one hand, it has to ensure built assets adhere to the strict standards set for healthcare environments and put patient safety at the forefront of every decision.

“On the other, it has to develop estates that are capable of rising to future challenges.

“This is especially difficult in public healthcare, where every pound spent it subject to close scrutiny.

“Fortunately, the NHS does provide some guidance for those working on its estate through health building notes. But, while this gives some indication of best practice, it does not explain how it’s achieved.

“It’s this gap in knowledge where REHAU’s research can help.”

With 40 new hospitals on the way, the UK healthcare sector has been presented with an opportunity to build back better, with both occupant wellbeing and sustainability at the heart of these new developments

Richmond concludes: “The NHS is one of the greatest assets to the nation. However, it continues to be placed under threat by ageing building stock.

“At this juncture, it’s important to take this challenge as a learning opportunity on the importance of healthy design.

“With 40 new hospitals on the way, the UK healthcare sector has been presented with an opportunity to build back better, with both occupant wellbeing and sustainability at the heart of these new developments.

“By opting for fundamentally healthy design choices, we can create long-lasting facilities that allow the NHS to function effectively for years to come.”

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To download REHAU’s full guide, click here.

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