Furniture is an integral part of many healthcare projects right now. These items provide comfort while conveying an optimistic vibe in waiting areas, providing extra supports to the staff and facilitating communication between clients and doctors.
Furthermore, pieces of furniture complete the environment for health in ways beyond aesthetics.
Concerning it, just recently, healthcare furniture is making recognizable impacts on health care industry.
Due to the growing availability and wider range of furniture in suitable choices, programmatic understanding, and creativity, it becomes possible to itemize products that gratify practical considerations and serve different needs while maintaining attractive aesthetics.
The Manufacturers’ Take
Big furniture manufacturers who are popular for creating ergonomic products are now diversifying to provide wider options for the healthcare market.
Last year, NeoCon held a well-attended trade expo that showcases many types of healthcare furniture and other industrial products that offer healthcare solutions. The trends in the exhibition range from the active environment, transitional adaptation, and multi-purpose products that enhance the engagements with clients and casework products. These products provide financial benefits like longer warranties and deliver consistent quality components.
It’s a constant challenge for every manufacturer to continue re-imagining and challenging conventions of the past. The same provocation applies to designers who need to keep an eye on what influences or factors can affect the furniture specs to achieve functional and creative solutions outside the traditional mindset in healthcare.
Below are the factors that buyers need to consult and consider before buying cost-effective healthcare furniture.
Get To Know Your Client
Collecting data relating to types of furniture from the customer early on can narrow down the options from the outset. Moreover, comprehending the facility’s brand identity will guide the furniture and finish the selection while also determining how the clients will respond to the integration of unique pieces to the clinically-driven ones.
It is also important to collaborate with the users to identify which furniture pieces are suitable. Items like sleeper sofa can produce more discussions and impact satisfaction scores from the clients. These items need more legwork from designers and extensive research besides coordination in keeping samples for testing.
Robin Mutz, executive nursing director at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), said that the feedbacks are mostly about sleeping accommodations for family. The common complaints are due to the uncomfortable sleeping couches. Clients and guests complain that they are too hard, too small, and too short.
Mutz also added that what children’s hospitals need right now are sleeping spaces for parents and visitors. Since it is a hospital for kids, adhering to the vibrancy of the environment is almost a priority. Thus, finding a concise, attractive and multi-function healthcare furniture that will be suitable for the surrounding is tough.
Get To Know The Clients and The Family
Furniture change depending on the type of facility. Children’s hospitals, for example, pose design challenges related to proportion and scale. While on the other hand, facilities for aging populations require different accommodations like seating furniture with firmer cushions, arms extending to the front seat and more abundant seating heights.
Mutz further addresses that comprehending the different needs of the Clients can affect the selection of furniture and boost the overall experience of the users. There are families in children’s hospitals that stay there for long periods which only heightens demands for functional and attractive pieces that can provide comfort, good storage, and device outlets.
Also, furniture items must have cleaner surfaces without too many fissures to avoid harboring bed bugs and germs. It’s best to check out any items ordered online from sites such as Beds Online. Checking these items ensures that the bed or mattress is a perfect match for the client.
Get To Know The Staff
The efficiency and experience of the staff can be significantly enhanced depending on the type of furniture in the workplace. The workstations for physicians, nurses and other health professionals are evolving.
The furniture solutions for workrooms and nurse stations can be different from one another. Manufacturers are now creating hubs where different staffs and members of the facility can meet and tackle the progress of Clients, as a contradiction to the neutral touchdown spaces where online consultation could take place.
Due to the rise of medical technologies such as telehealth and tablets, new items enter the market that retains eye contact and makes consultation less intimidating and double-sided.
Determine The Key Spaces
Individual areas require a more adventurous selection of furniture to reinforce the themes and design concepts of departments within the facility.
The Women’s Pavilion and Shaw Jenkin’s Children’s Hospital in MUSC have lounges inspired in Charleston’s historic courtyards. These yards create zones which allow different waiting modes like active playing, covered seating for introspection, and family groupings of different size.
Performance is always the top priority when it comes to healthcare settings. Mutz said that the functionality of healthcare furniture decreases if it wears out too quickly due to stains which also make the items difficult to clean.
To aid these problems, Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) released a ‘Healthcare Furniture Design – Guidelines for Cleanability,’ a manual for a variety of cleaning of considerations for furniture specs.
The most common guidelines are the following:
Avoid seams and joints that may create bacteria and organism reservoirs.
Seats and furniture with a space between chairs’ backs to facilitate cleaning.
Minimize liquid penetration into the cushions through using sealed zippers.
Use impermeable upholstered furniture to enhance Client care areas.
A comfortable and safe bariatric seating that distributes the Client’s weight is a crucial factor that can affect the performance too.
The rule of thumb is that one bariatric seat should fill in ten seats in the waiting area. There are no accepted standards yet, but manufacturers make bariatric chairs that can hold 300 to 400 pounds.
Nurses and caregivers get significant muscle strains in their bodies while supporting the Clients in walking, standing or transferring for a considerable amount of time in their respective shifts. Even seating for a long time while entering Client’s data can also take a toll on their health.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) gave a list of various recommendations that can minimize the adverse effects of job hazards that medical professionals experience on a daily basis.
OSHA recommends chairs with soft armrests, backrests that provide enough lumbar support and conforms to the natural curve of the spine, as well as leg bases with casters to allow easy movements.
Desks should have at least 20 inches space allowance from the edge to give extra space for computers and monitors while providing enough leg space to maximize mobility.
The Material Health
Another major factor in selecting furniture is material health. It is the factor that every manufacturer and designer should abide to avoid products that contain harmful substances like carcinogens that can trigger asthma and are detrimental to the environment and human health.
The Perkins+Will’s Precautionary List identifies the majority of these ingredients from the pieces of information provided by multiple regulatory entities. It’s best to select manufacturers that are sharing awareness for material health pieces of information through Healthy Product Declarations (HPD) and other methodologies.
Designers should be on the lookout when it comes to graded upholstery options that are free from PVC and don’t have harmful flame retardants which are related to diabetes, cancer, and reproductive health issues.
The offerings for healthcare furniture continues to adapt and evolve. The presence of charging plugs in seating and different side tables is an example of design element that is quickly incorporating the industry.
Manufacturers and designers can help leverage this mission. If the clients want something that doesn’t exist, manufacturers can cater and create custom pieces that are not cost-prohibitive. These collaborations will lead to the creation of spaces with pieces of furniture that will optimize performance and enhance aesthetic value.
Furniture used to be just a beautiful addition to our homes in the past, but as our culture evolve, and our lifestyles change, the needs for sustainable and functional types of furniture that help maximize our productivity and prolong our physical endurance increased just as much.
As healthcare industry see the value of useful and health-friendly pieces of furniture, the demands for such products also grows and continues to grow each year. Hopefully, manufacturers and designers can sustain the production and continues to make products that not only adds visual enhancement to a particular space but also improves the well-being of the person.