Colour's healing power

31 Oct 2011

Polychromatic New Ward Block becomes benchmark for evidence-based healthcare research

The New Ward Block at Chesterfield Royal Hospital was officially opened by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall on 18th February 2011 and provides state-of-the-art ward facilities where patient care and dignity, infection control and a healing environment were key elements of the brief.

The building, which contains three 96-bed wards, was hailed by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as 'a wonderful place… it doesn't have the same hospital atmosphere… I hope a lot of other places will follow suit'.

The T-shaped plan reinvents the traditional ward layout to improve staff efficiency and patient dignity. Each ward has two clusters of patient rooms, each around a nurse base, with a shared support hub. This rationalised plan reduces staff travel times and releases more time to care.

Internal windows flood the wards with natural light, maximising staff observation of patients and reassuring them that they are being well cared for. A new link bridge directly connects the new accommodation to the existing hospital streets, incorporating full-height, artist-designed coloured glass louvres that protect the privacy of patients in the adjacent existing ward rooms.

Holistic interior designs developed with ArtinSite integrate artwork and colours taken from the Derbyshire landscape into the fabric of the building and inform the choice of furniture and soft furnishings. The designs include full-height Whiterock image walls, sketches printed onto laminate doors and accent colours selected from flowers which, when combined with the views out to the Derbyshire countryside, provide a dramatic and stimulating environment in which to work and heal.

Details are robust yet refined; blinds are integrated into glazed screens, negative step skirting details and hygienic metal door sets help to promote infection control whilst delivering an environment more comparable to a hotel than a traditional hospital. Everything in the ward has been designed to ensure that it remains uncluttered, calm and easy to clean; staff report that, six months after opening, 'it still feels like a show ward every day'.

The New Ward Block is now to be used by an Independent Research Body to empirically test the wealth of anecdotal evidence which suggests that the well-designed hospital environment reduces recovery times and contributes to better outcomes for patients.

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