Shining a light on healthcare

As the NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary, focus has been placed on making it fit for the next generation. Many hospitals lack modern infrastructure – indeed some were built more than half a century ago.

Modern LED technology has long been considered the most energy-efficient form of lighting. Offering improved lighting levels and distributions whilst significantly reducing energy consumption and operational costs, LED lighting columns have been implemented to great effect at many healthcare facilities across the UK. Adam Rice, marketing manager at Urbis Schréder, discusses the diverse role lighting plays in the healthcare environment and the benefits it offers these types of facilities.

The power of LED lighting

In the UK healthcare sector, lighting networks predominantly have two roles. The first purpose is functional – with lighting schemes designed to illuminate footpaths, roadways and key entrances, ensuring staff and patients can use the facilities safely and securely.

Many older hospitals still rely on sodium-based HID lanterns which do not necessarily light walking routes effectively. To improve lighting levels many organisations are now turning to LED technology, owing to its powerful optical performance, energy-efficiency and the long lifespans of the lanterns.

Improving lighting levels has a number of benefits: emergency vehicles can rapidly manoeuvre around the site as signage and wayfinding markers are illuminated effectively; CCTV performance is improved by having a clearer picture; and LED luminaires can be fitted with glare control features to ensure light is directed away from ward windows, providing a more restful environment.

A further benefit is that they can be fitted with a management system whereby each luminaire is controlled, allowing facilities management teams to operate individual columns independently. In the autumn and winter months, when ambient light levels are low and the nights longer, LED luminaires can be flexibly controlled in real-time – providing the ability to dim or brighten lamps depending on footfall and circumstances such as the weather. This advanced level of control ensures sites are never over-lit and lighting levels are always appropriate to the needs of those using a facility – reducing the operational costs of the entire network.

For the majority of public hospitals, reducing costs is one of the most significant drivers for implementing a new LED lighting network. With a longer lifespan compared to HID lanterns, LED luminaires also require much less maintenance, reducing costs further.

However, there is also now an emerging trend amongst privately-funded facilities that are looking to widen the functions of their lighting networks by investing in IoT-connected lighting – such as the Shuffle by Schréder. Capable of offering a range of additional services including Wi-Fi connectivity, electric vehicle charging and CCTV monitoring, these solutions go beyond traditional lighting and capitalise on recent advancements in ‘smart lighting’ controls.

Illuminating healthcare

Lighting also plays a secondary role; utilising colour and illumination to create atmospheric environments that can help improve the well-being of patients.

Facilities can use powerful LED floodlights, bespoke handrail systems and mid-level bollards to create engaging outdoor spaces that are not only safe to use in the winter months but are also therapeutic spaces for palliative care. Combined with natural elements, such as trees and shrubbery, LED floodlights can be controlled by a DMX protocol and pre-programmed to change colour at set intervals and illuminate sculptures or water features - creating effective and engaging mood lighting.

An effective lighting network is just one of many different elements that need to be combined to create world-class healthcare environments. However, with many facilities undergoing refurbishment projects in the coming years, investing in a state-of-the-art lighting network featuring a range of LED luminaires can help rejuvenate these sites, offering patients and facilities managers:

  • Improved safety and security
  • Improved aesthetics
  • Reduced operational costs
  • Lower maintenance costs and requirements

Case Study: Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary

After a multi-million pound refurbishment of the existing Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary (DGRI) was cancelled, the NHS decided to build a new, state-of-the-art facility at Garroch Loaning – at a cost of more than £200 million.  

The new medical facility provides 344 single-bed en-suite rooms and features an integrated nurse calling system, a combined assessment unit to manage emergency cases and bed allocation, theatre complex, critical care unit and an outpatients department.  The wards at the new infirmary are surrounded by garden spaces, while palliative care bedrooms have their own private gardens with dedicated space for beds to be wheeled outside - allowing patients to experience the natural environment.

An essential part of the new development was the implementation of an effective external lighting network to complement the architectural design and ensure staff and patients could use the facilities safely.

Working in conjunction with electrical contractor Crown House Technologies, Schréder supplied a range of LED luminaires, including more than 100 Ampera MIDI and MAXI lanterns to light the main hospital car park and access roads, 50 Pilzeo luminaires which were installed along the hospitals walkways to provide high-performance decorative lighting, and 15 Neos LED floodlights to illuminate a prominent grass mound – reducing the likelihood of patients or staff tripping.

The work at the new infirmary is part of the Schréder’s wider involvement in the healthcare sector. Peter Cottrell, Business Development Manager at Schréder UK said: “Patients in Scotland now have a modern facility capable of continuing to provide high-quality healthcare and our knowledge and LED lighting solutions have played a part in making the site what it is today.”

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