Last year’s unveiling of the new stroke and neurology unit at Royal Melbourne Hospital, in Parkville, Australia, showcased both a new treatment called endovascular clot retrieval (ECR) and plentiful biophilic design elements that lend the space a soothing, homey feel. As reported in Hospital + Healthcare, these features include natural light, timber joinery, and a palette of blue and warm gray along with soft, curved forms and cozy nooks where staff, patients, and visitors interact and clinicians observe and write up notes.
“The environment needs to strike just the right balance in terms of stimulation,” said Nicholas Simmonds, project architect at ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects, the Melbourne- and Sydney-based firm that handled the department’s design. “If a stroke patient is overstimulated, that can send them into stroke again.
Patient rooms and rehab are linked by a wide circular walkway dubbed “The Racetrack,” a social zone where meetings and visits take place and patients practice walking, looping around at their own pace.
Similar to intensive care, ECR requires high patient-staff ratios, making way for design details like the operable glazed walls and windows in high-dependency unit bedrooms that can be switched from clear to opaque when privacy is required as well as the small staff workbenches placed outside pairs of patient rooms.
Also cited in the article is professor Mark Parsons, Royal Melbourne Hospital’s director of neurology and head of the new stroke unit, who believes the design is having a “massive” impact on patient recovery and satisfaction.
“The old ward was really 19th-century design and now we’ve moved well into the 21st century,” he said. “There’s lots of evidence that if you deprive stroke patients of a nice environment they actually recover more slowly.” Instead, he noted, the hospital is seeing more patients discharged who “have a much better level of function than they did previously. They’re able to go home and look after themselves, rather than need further rehabilitation to get them to an independent level.”
A version of this article was originally published by MyTech Decisions.