Better Hospital Bathroom Design: Focus on the Surfaces

Most people don’t like extended hospital stays, and who can blame them. Medical concerns aside, hospitals don’t typically offer homey environments. Oh, they might try. But when it comes to safety vs. comfort, the scales always tip in favor of safety—by quite a bit.

Health Facilities Management magazine has an interesting article that explores this very topic and “the trade-offs when designing the danger out of patient bathrooms.” It discusses the inherent challenges that all designers must face, such as compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.

The article makes many valid points, one of which I’d like to share here: “The patient bathroom is one area where good design can help prevent health care-associated infections (HAIs) and their human and financial costs. Each bathroom surface must be durable and easy to clean and maintain.” (I bolded that last line for emphasis.)

It makes sense, of course, that surfaces should be durable—think of all the traffic in and out of hospitals year after year—and that sanitary conditions are of the utmost importance to patients, caregivers, and visitors.

The article goes on to note the problems with “small, difficult-to-clean tiles,” and we couldn’t agree more with this assessment. Tile is an extremely stubborn surface to clean and maintain, thanks to the grout. It’s easy—too easy—to miss spots in the grout, which is not acceptable in an environment where hygiene is of the utmost importance. In addition, the grout and tiles can crack, which can lead to other issues, such as water leaks (hello, slips and falls!) and structural damage.

This is why we champion the use of solid surface in both residential bathrooms and institutional bathrooms, like those found in colleges and hospitals.

Solid surfaces are…

  • Non-porous, so you don’t have to worry about the material harboring germs and bacteria
  • Easy to clean, since it’s a smooth, solid surface without any grout or seams
  • Strong—the material’s chemical makeup is responsible for its strength
  • Durable, which makes it a smarter investment than materials that need constant maintenance or replacement
  • Easy to fabricate, thanks to the material’s inherent flexibility
  • Aesthetically pleasing—it offers a clean, contemporary look to any space
  • Available for use in countertops, shower panels, shower bases, and more, which means you can practically design an entire hospital bathroom using this durable, safe material

We’re not the only ones who are fans of solid surfaces, either. We’re hearing from more and more designers who are getting on board as well. In fact, the June edition of Healthcare Design magazine had an article called “Patient Bathroom Design Balances Style and Safety.” One designer talked about using solid surface countertops and integrated sink bowls in his hospital design and how this helped achieve a great overall look.

Interested in learning more about how solid surfaces can work in hospitals? Check out our Meridian Solid Surface countertops and Meridian Solid Surface shower products. And, of course, you can contact us at any time with questions.

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