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A Better Wait
Rebecca Furse, Environmental Psychologist at DKA, suggests five ways to create a welcoming waiting area that works for everyone.
1. First Impressions
The design of the waiting area should be a reflection of your values and level of service. Branded signage will reassure people they are in the right place and natural finishes and plants can help to create a calming environment. Where possible, use daylight and natural ventilation to make the space feel airy, bright and fresh - aim to make your visitor feel better as soon as they walk through the door!
2. Make it easy
The layout should be clear and intuitive. Consider the position of the desk or checking-in screens, use clear signage, and zone seating with colours or distinctive objects, to create a seamless progression that minimises stress for the patient and reduces the need for assistance from staff. Make sure a visitor’s most basic needs are met with nearby WCs and a beverage offering.
3. Something for everyone
Provide a variety of seating so that everyone can find a space where they feel comfortable, both physically and emotionally. Choose arrangements that encourage people to sit together (sociopetal) or maintain privacy with layouts that reduce unintended eye contact (sociofugal). It’s also important to provide a range of seat heights and styles, to suit people with different needs, and ensure the environment is as inclusive as possible (e.g. wheelchair accessible, good visual contrast, hearing loops etc.)
4. Positive distraction
Artwork and views out can provide a welcome distraction from a patient’s anxieties and make delays more bearable. Things that move, for example sculptures and aquariums, can be particularly engaging. Activity areas for children can help them and their parents; you don’t need a lot of space – a flat surface for some colouring-in might be all it takes.
Once you’ve got it right, keep it right. Tired décor and worn-out furniture can look dirty and show a lack of care and attention to detail – not something any healthcare facility should be associated with. Get advice when choosing finishes and furniture to ensure they can cope with the expected numbers of visitors, and cleaning regime, to keep it looking better for longer.
For help planning your waiting area, call Rebecca at DKA or visit our website to find out more.