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May 22, 2024

Tara Veldman On Designing Healthcare Facilities For Collective Wellbeing

The design of healthcare facilities can have a powerful impact on people, from lowering stress levels to improving recovery times explains Health Sector Leader at BLP Tara Veldman.

Some of the projects Tara has worked on include the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Royal Women’s Hospital and leading the masterplan for the Royal Children’s Hospital Redevelopment.

She says while healthcare design differs slightly around the world there are a couple of things changing across the spectrum. One of those is more collaborative campuses.

“We are seeing both in Australia and overseas a lot of campuses where it’s more than just a hospital,” she says. This means incorporating more health, research, education and community facilities as well as aged care, housing or childcare.

“This idea of hospitals as a driver of health education and research is becoming stronger”.

The second change is a pull towards biophilic design and design for humans within the clinical environment.

“Our ethos is making sure we are designing for the users of the building”.

She says while of course, clinical design must be top of mind in hospitals, it’s also important to consider the journey of everyone else around that. Research backs up how this makes a difference in patient outcomes.

“There’s a lot of work around sunlight and the actual penetration of sunlight into an inpatient’s bedroom. If you have an inpatient’s bedroom that gets sunlight into it directly then the length of stay for those patients is actually shorter,” she explains.

Research also backs that the art of distraction is very beneficial for calming stress levels. A great example of this is a collaboration with Melbourne Zoo to set up a meerkat enclosure at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

“The kids come in and the meerkats are playing as they do so the kids are super happy to watch the meerkats and are distracted from thinking about whatever appointment they’re going to”.

Another example is at Campbelltown Hospital where they came together with an artist to create a large-scale mural of the flora and fauna from the Cumberland Plain.

“We went for a walk on country with a local elder and his group and worked together to create this huge mural in the central hall. It gives a sense of connection to place and community”.

Part of Tara’s work in health care design took place in The Netherlands where she worked on one of her favourite projects to date at a Mental Health Care facility housing 30 people in crisis or acute care.

Here, they designed a new building and made the bold decision to put a glass winter garden in the middle of it.

“We went back a year afterwards and the nurse unit manager who ran the place said ‘Tara this has changed our lives…beforehand all of the patients were terrified of each other. Now they hang out in the winter garden every morning and they all know each other now and have coffee’. He said the levels of stress and incidences have gone down completely”.

“It shows you how an environment can hugely influence people’s lives”.

This podcast is brought to you in association with Siniat, proud sponsor of Talking Architecture & Design Podcast Heatha and Aged Care Series.

To listen to the full episode please listen here.


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