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  • GARY McCARTNEY

The 5 C’s of Supportive Design for Healthcare


With the pandemic dominating everyone’s thinking, many people are not visiting their health professionals for their usual checkups and maintenance. When the current situation eases how will we attract people back into clinics and surgeries and help them stay healthy?


Supportive design can play a huge part in this. Let’s face it, no one enjoys a trip to their doctor, dentist or specialist. Not least because the environment usually does little to reduce anxiety or discomfort- it may even exacerbate it. Here are five simple things that we can do through design to make things easier.

1. Make it COMFORTABLE


Comfort for many people now means space. Personal space. So we can’t clump seating together in rows or blocks any more. The environment needs to feel safe. Many visitors are suffering from some level of anxiety so distractions are important, especially natural ones like views or gardens. Plants- real ones- are a huge


2. Provide CLARITY


Circulation and wayfinding should be intuitive. Humans navigate by colour, contrast and light- signage is a last resort. Visitors shouldn’t find themselves in a maze of corridors- it just stresses us out. Layouts should be simple and linear.


3. Give CHOICE


We are more comfortable and relaxed when we have choice. That might be whether to sit at a counter by the window or in an armchair in a corner. It might even be whether to have a consultation inside or outside. Bringing the outside in is a great way to create a supportive environment.


4. A fresh COLOUR and finish palette


Colour affects mood. All colours can have both positive and negative effects. No one colour should dominate and strong, aggressive colours are not a good idea. Textures and natural finishes do a lot to promote comfort and a feeling of well-being.


5. CUT the CLUTTER


If we can do one single thing to alleviate stress for everyone it’s the elimination of clutter. Most waiting rooms are a cacophony of communication, much of it printed on the premises and imparting way too much information. Eliminating printed notices is both environmentally sound and provides a calmer, healthier environment. Carefully chosen art pieces can take their place.


When we talk about supportive design it’s not just visitors we are talking about. Health professionals work long hours and are also prone to stress. Creating a supportive environment goes a long way to helping them too.