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Providing care quality by design: a new measure to assess hospital ward layouts

Pachilova, R; Sailer, K; (2020) Providing care quality by design: a new measure to assess hospital ward layouts. The Journal of Architecture , 25 (2) pp. 186-202. 10.1080/13602365.2020.1733802. Green open access

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Abstract

Which hospital ward layout works best? In the past, one response to this question has been to design layouts that minimise walking distances of healthcare workers, and increase the time spent with their patients. However, new research suggests that good face-to-face communication between doctors and nurses crucially impacts the health and safety of patients. Taking this into account, this research proposes a new single measure called Spaces for Communication Index (SCI). It assesses communication opportunities arising from the layout, and shows that a high index is associated with the provision of good healthcare. Six NHS wards were first studied in depth by collecting detailed information about movement and communication patterns of healthcare workers. The index was developed on this basis. Thirty-one NHS wards were then selected, based on their quality of care rating. These were used to test the index. Each ward was analysed with the Space Syntax method, which investigated the size of visual fields of healthcare workers on everyday movement paths through the ward. Large viewsheds provide good visibility and awareness of the environment. As a result, they accrue more communication opportunities by virtue of the layout. Statistical analysis was also used to test if the index can predict care quality. Other factors such as distances between key areas, number of patient beds or ward size were tested, too. Results showed that the higher the index, the better the quality of care. The other factors were not related to healthcare quality. In terms of design, these results highlight the importance of the openness of spaces that healthcare workers traverse to get from one key area to another. This research contributes to the development of an objective method that designers can use to compare different nursing unit designs, and anticipate the care quality that would be provided to patients.

Type: Article
Title: Providing care quality by design: a new measure to assess hospital ward layouts
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/13602365.2020.1733802
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/13602365.2020.1733802
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10097438
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