Chances are your medical clinic caters for a wide spectrum of ages. So it makes sense to design your space to ensure all of your patients can easily access the practice and feel comfortable.
Because different demographics have divergent needs, it’s useful to approach your medical practice fitout or refurbishment from an intergenerational design perspective. This means designing your practice to meet the specific needs of each generation of patients, rather than simply designing to suit your “average” patient.
We take a look at how you can apply intergenerational design ideas to create a medical practice that is suitable – and welcoming – for anyone regardless of their age.
When designing for elderly patients, a key thing to consider is that many will experience reduced mobility. That may mean they use wheelchairs or walkers, or it may simply mean that they struggle to get out of low chairs.
Wide corridors and doorways, lower reception desks, and comfortable, supportive chairs can all address your patients’ mobility requirements. It is also worth allocating additional space for “parking” walkers in your waiting area, as well as in your consult and treatment rooms. This extra space will also be welcomed by your patients with younger children in prams.
You should also consider the needs of low vision patients, particularly in your reception and waiting areas. Carefully plan your waiting room furniture to ensure there are no tripping hazards. If you provide magazines or other reading material for your patients, place large-print magazines on an easily accessible rack.
To make it easier for your patients to move throughout the practice, think about varying materials, colors, and textures in flooring so people can differentiate between spaces. However, it is important to ensure any change in flooring material is seamless.
Going to the doctors can be a scary experience for children, so it’s important to consider their needs in the design of your medical centre.
Because small children running around or dropping toys can present a hazard to elderly patients, a good idea for catering to an intergenerational patient base is to have separate spaces in your medical practice that work for children. In larger practices, a separate play room may be the answer. Smaller practices can use play pens or other physical barriers to keep kids amused and keep older patients safe.
Incorporating child-sized furniture in your waiting room will help make your smallest patients feel much more at home. It’s also important to include some entertainment options to keep both parents and kids happy while waiting for their appointment. While a basket of toys was often the go-to option for medical centres in the past, COVID has seen the need to explore different options.
Paper and individual packs of crayons are great to keep little ones occupied. For older children, consider installing an i-Pad docking station or more passive entertainment options such as fish tanks and television screens. You may also want to add interesting and colourful murals, pictures, or paintings.
And don’t forget to make space for mum or dad. They also need somewhere to sit, so make sure you include some adult-sized seating options close by.