6 Qualities You Should Look For When Selecting Furniture For Healthcare Environments
Hospitals, doctors’ offices, and clinics have specific needs when it comes to furniture. As with any setting that caters to the public, you’re concerned about safety and durability. But furnishing places where people go when they need medical attention can be tricky.
Don’t worry. We have the answers.
Here are six things you have to think about when you are planning to purchase furniture for a healthcare environment.
1. Durability and hygiene
The surfaces of chairs, tables, and desks can be breeding grounds for viruses, bacteria, and mold. When selecting healthcare furniture, choose those with surfaces that are nonporous and free of seams and creases where germs can lurk. Antimicrobial surfaces and upholstery are musts in order to reduce the spread of sickness and illness-causing critters.
There are a number of high-performance fabrics and stain-resistant finishes that can do the job. Choose easy to clean, antibacterial materials that repel and destroy infectious organisms. You want durable furniture in your facility that can stand up to constant washing, sanitizing and fumigation.
2. Comfort and Safety
People of all ages, shapes and sizes frequent hospitals and clinics. Therefore, hospital and clinic furniture needs to be safe and comfortable to use for everyone regardless of age, body size, or physical infirmities. Seating selections at slightly higher heights and with secure arms, for example, are great options, as long as they’re sturdy and hard to tip over. Also consider furniture with soft corners and edges, to reduce injury in the event of a fall. This is especially true if you're outfitting a behavioral health facility. You also want to ensure furniture is not excessively flammable and does not contain any sharp or removable components that can be used to cause harm to self or others.
Ultimately, everything needs to be comfortable so that patients and family can rest easy for long hours, including overnight accommodations.
With respect to staffing furniture, it’s important for the chairs and desks they use to be ergonomic to reduce work staff fatigue and back pain. staff furniture sometimes needs to be bactericidal, or antimicrobial, and should come from a manufacturer with a proven reputation in healthcare furnishings.
Staff and patient furniture should also be well maintained for everyone’s safety. It’s important, therefore, that broken or ill-functioning pieces be repair or replaced immediately. So when making a vendor selection, be sure to choose a company with a selection of pieces that are simple for your staff to adjust, clean and repair and include a hefty warranty . This ensures that replacement parts can be acquired quickly and easily.
3. Privacy and efficiency
When you consider furniture for a healthcare environment, you have to think about more than chairs and exam tables. It’s also not a bad idea to invest in privacy screens, sound absorbing walls and other configurable furniture where the nurses, doctors and other staff won’t be distracted by outside noise, especially during patient treatment. For staff, this sort of attention to workplace design will allow them to focus while working, which increases efficiency. This privacy can also ease patient anxiety, giving them peace of mind. They feel safe; they feel cared for; and they know that their staff is attentive.
Depending on the nature of the facility, you could benefit from creating collaborative work-spaces for employees. Often, medical staff members need to collaborate to provide the best care for their patients. Decide what’s best for the employees (based on their needs and job functions) and then design their workplace area for maximum comfort and efficiency.
4. Family accommodations
When visiting the hospital, especially in the case of an emergency, people rarely come alone. So it’s important that furniture can be reconfigured into groups for patients and families.
It’s also good to configure waiting room areas with acoustic considerations to minimize loud noise and make patients and their families feel that they are in a more intimate setting.
5. Warm, welcoming facility
Healthcare facilities are not only places where extremely complicated and personal services are provided, they can also be taxing on patients and their families. When care is provided in intimidating buildings with institutional, windowless corridors filled with unfamiliar scents, sounds, and signs, the situation becomes much more stressful.
Though it’s critical that a healthcare environment be sterile, it doesn’t have to also look sterile. It’s amazing what neutral, warm colors and a few potted plants can do for a room. Take the opportunity to use colors consistent with your brand colors, as long as they promote a calming, pleasant atmosphere.
6. Environmentally safe
Part of providing a comforting healthcare environment is, well, protecting the environment when choosing the decor. Avoid hospital and clinic furniture that contains elements that can harm the environment. Benzene and formaldehyde are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can hurt not only the environment but also the people in the office as well. Some upholstery, plywood, carpets and other furniture-related materials can contain harmful chemicals that make for unsafe conditions.
A healthcare facility doesn’t have to be cold and unwelcoming. And, there’s no reason why the furniture can’t be comfortable, functional and durable.
Need help choosing what’s right for your hospital or clinic, give us a call at 844-235-3636, or fill out this simple form to schedule a free consultation.