When envisioning a hospital, people tend to picture sick or injured people staying in the care of medical professionals in the hopes of a quick recovery. Hospital officials envision those recovering individuals, as well, but they also consider the importance of protecting those patients and providing as much comfort as possible while in the hospital’s care.
Architects, commercial builders, and general contractors have an important task when it comes to the design of a hospital bathroom: they need to find the perfect balance between patient comfort and safety.
Let’s look at some of the must haves for every hospital bathroom.
Safety and Accessibility
Studies have shown that, unfortunately, most patient falls occur when attempting to access or utilize the bathroom. As a result, safety features are of utmost importance to the design of hospital bathrooms and showers.
One of the most important steps in the design is the location of the bathroom itself. In-room bathrooms, versus those accessed via a hallway, allow greater accessibility for patients due to proximity.
Bathroom door considerations are also a must. A sliding door to the bathroom, rather than opening-in or out of the bathroom, will allow for less hindrance and greater safety by eliminating extra steps needed for a patient to navigate around the door. Other design factors for safety are the need for non-slip flooring, higher toilet seats, ADA accessible fixtures, grab bars throughout the bathroom and shower, the installation of alarms, and safe and accessible showers.
Particular attention must be placed on the hospital shower area and the type of shower material used. Some surfaces can prove very dangerous, whereas solid surface showers offer the flexibility of being manufactured with a pebbled texture to help prevent slipping. The durability provided by solid surface showers is also a safety feature, compared to tile that has a tendency to chip or crack allowing for the possibility of cuts or scrapes.
Patients need to be able to easily access the shower area. With a customizable, barrier-free ADA-compliant shower pan, you can allow easy access to the shower area, whether the patient is able to walk or needs to use a wheel chair.
The unfortunate fact exists that hospitals are a breeding ground for the growth of multiple types of infection-causing bacteria. Focus on infection prevention in hospital bathrooms, therefore, is absolutely imperative.
Designers must consider the need to use inherently durable and clean products throughout the bathroom area. Solid surface solutions for showers and countertops are a logical remedy, as the material is non-porous and will not allow the growth of bacteria or the resulting spreading of infection. Unlike tile, which requires grout and therefore intensive cleaning and re-grouting schedules, solid surface requires very minimal cleaning to maintain a safe surface. A simple combination of warm and soapy water is all that’s required for cleaning. Even if a hospital desires the need to pressure-wash the bathroom, solid surface solutions are durable enough to hold up to that stress.
Besides safety and cleanliness, there is the need for patients to feel comfortable while staying in a hospital. Designers need to consider adding elements of a home-like environment to help provide a non-institutional look and feel.
Making a hospital bathroom and shower area accessible, with safety features, and a comfortably designed look is possible with the addition of simple items, such as decorative fixtures, attractive wall colors, and designer shower curtains. Additionally, solid surface showers and countertops are innately beautiful and available in a multitude of colors and patterns. Solid surface also withstands wear and tear and maintains a consistent look throughout the product’s lifetime.
Undoubtedly, patients would rather be almost anywhere other than a hospital. But, if they’re required to be there, they should be provided with a safe room, accessible bathrooms, and clean environments, all while feeling as comfortable as possible. Hospital officials and contractors need to keep these essential requirements top-of-mind when designing hospital showers.