Building Better Healthcare Awards 2014: Guide to the Patient Environment class

Have you got what it takes to be a winner? Here's how to stand out in this year's competition

Last year\'s award for Best Collaborative Arts Project went to Abertawe Bro Mogannwg University Health Board for its \'Rehabilitation encouraged by art\' project. The judges will be looking for a similar scheme for this year\'s award

In the second of our weekly articles guiding you through the categories for the 2014 Building Better Healthcare Awards, we are providing an overview of the ever-popular Patient Environment class.

Attracting a high number of entries each year, the three awards up for grabs this year recognise best practice and innovation in the design of new and refurbished health and social care facilities across the UK and overseas.

In particular, the Patient Environment class looks at the impact interior and landscape design and the arts can have on improving patient, visitor and staff wellbeing.

In each category the focus is on how the intervention improves and enhances the environment for patients, visitors and staff

The Award for Best External Environment will be presented to an outstanding external space that enhances the overall experience of patients, staff and visitors through gardens, landscape, urbanscape or streetscape. Entries must involve projects that are completed and fully operational.

In previous years the category has attracted entries mostly dealing with the inclusion of landscaping in health and social care development projects. However, the judges will also welcome entries concerning external building works, landscaping, artwork, and the improvement and creation of external areas such as carparks and public access points.

The judges will be looking for evidence of how the project enhances the patient, visitor and staff experience and sets a precedent for the design of future outdoor spaces. It must also be mindful of the location in which it is set, reflecting the topography and nature of the surroundings.

The recipient of last year’s award for Best External Environment was Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust for its project to turn wasteland into a teenage retreat.

The judges said of the project: “This is an inspirational scheme that has transformed an area of wasted space outside a children and adolescent mental health secure unit into a space for education, reflection and therapeutic engagement.

“We were particularly impressed with the imagination shown by the trust in recognising how a very challenging, sloping site could be redesigned to provide such a stunning, interesting and engaging space for the young people.”

The Award for Best Internal Environment will highlight an outstanding therapeutic space that enhances the overall experience of patients, staff and visitors through an effective approach to interior design. Entries can include, but are not restricted to, interior design, building refurbishments and alterations.

In this category, entries must show how the project respects the modesty, privacy and dignity of patients and visitors , creates a welcoming and attractive environment that lifts the spirits, and provides an inspirational sense of place and a therapeutic environment.

The 2013 winner in this category was CircleReading. The judges said: “This bold and modern design has used a non-institutional colour palate and furnishings to create an uncluttered, welcoming and professional healthcare environment.

“Natural light abounds, even in the operating theatres and recovery rooms, and patient rooms have been designed to be comfortable and more hotel-like, rather than traditional clinical rooms.

“Overall this is a modern hospital designed with thought and care that exemplifies good design.”

Do you know of an interior design scheme that can rival 2013 winner, CircleReading?

Finally, there is the Award for Best Collaborative Arts Project . This award will recognise a collaborative arts project that has had a measurable positive impact on the patient and staff experience within a healthcare environment. The judges will be looking for a programme that involves the healthcare provider, patients and other key stakeholders including local communities. All entries must show evidence of cross-party involvement. They can involve performance, literary and visual artwork, including installations.

Entries in this category must explain how the project improves the overall wellbeing of patients, staff and visitors, integrates the arts into the patient environment and/or patient treatment pathway, and encourages involvement among patients, staff and visitors.

Last year the winner of this category was ‘Rehabilitation encouraged by art’ at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.

The scheme centred on illustrating, through photography and film, the treatment stages and recovery and to celebrate both the everyday and extraordinary achievements that have been made by some of the long-standing patients, illustrating that life needn’t necessarily come to an end or deteriorate, but may still be fulfilling after injury or illness.

Careful consideration was given to positioning the completed artwork around the building. Photographs of patients undergoing the fitting of a prosthetic leg are sited within the fitting area, for example, so that new patients have a visual concept of the treatment they will be receiving. The gait analysis room is complemented by a mural of Swansea Bay, which allows progress in walking to be monitored by means of white movable ‘sails’ that can be annotated with the patient’s name and used to identify the progress achieved over the pathway.

The judges said of the entry: “The idea of giving people with sometimes terrible injuries some real inspiration through photographs is really quite nice. There are a lot of photos of people doing things to encourage patients themselves to do those things.

“We particularly like the image of Swansea Bay where patients can feel their progress as they walk round a landmark that is familiar to them.

“Care has been taken to select and display photographs to fit with the different stages of the treatment pathway and the images are well chosen and joyful, showing a variety of activities being undertaken by people with disabilities to encourage others through their rehabilitation.”

In all three categories projects must have been completed and become fully operational between January 2013 and June 2014. The judges will need to see photographs of each entry rather than artists’ impressions. Entries should also include testimonials from users of the building post occupancy.

Entries need to be clearly written and succinct; dealing only with the details and impact of the development and how it will demonstrate improvements on what is currently available. This should be supported by genuine comments from patients and clinicians

Sarah Waller, head judge for the Patient Environment class, said: “In each category the focus is on how the intervention improves and enhances the environment for patients, visitors and staff. We will expect to see testimonials from users and clinical representatives, and will want to see evidence of the involvement of key stakeholders in the design process.

“This year we are expecting more entries from the social and community care sector, in particular schemes involving improvements to dementia facilities, such as the introduction of memory boxes or artwork. The arts category itself is usually very popular, and this year the judges will be focusing on collaborative projects that can show a positive impact on the patient experience.”

Jo Makosinski, editor of Building Better Healthcare and organiser of the awards, added: “When completing entry forms, it is vital you explain clearly how the development meets each of the bulletpoints set out in the judging criteria, and that images enable the judges to picture the project in its entirety.

“It is important that the entry is completed by a senior member of the team as they are in the best position to describe the benefits and the thinking behind the project. In addition, entries need to be clearly written and succinct; dealing only with the details and impact of the development and how it will demonstrate improvements on what is currently available. This should be supported by genuine comments from patients and clinicians. If these guidelines are followed then the judges will have sufficient information on which to make an informed decision. If any of this information is lacking, then it could mean projects not getting through to the final stages of judging.”

Click here for more details of the awards, or on each of the award headings above for the criteria for that award.

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