Hospitals are scary places for a lot of patients. After all, most people who go to the hospital are sick or injured, so they’re already under a lot of stress, and patients often have negative associations with hospital facilities due to prior experiences.
Unfortunately, the intimidation factor can have a negative influence on patients’ health and the way they interact with medical professionals. That’s why it’s important for hospital administrators to take steps to make their care environments feel more welcoming. Read on to find four tips for how to get started.
Change the Equipment
Patients who struggle with hospital phobias may have their fears triggered by common medical equipment. While it obviously wouldn’t make sense to get rid of all the equipment in hospital rooms and turn them into glorified hotel rooms, switching to a new brand of Medical Supply Cart that doesn’t look like typical hospital equipment can help to alleviate patients’ fears. Try purchasing carts with wood paneling instead of purchasing standard models, and outfit the rooms to match.
Encourage Communication with Providers
Patients who are afraid of hospitals have been shown to exhibit many of the same psychological signs as hostages. There are a few things that doctors can do to facilitate communication and make patients feel more at ease, but the majority of doctors do not receive much if any, ongoing training on how to improve their bedside manner.
Experts suggest that body language plays a large role in making patients feel comfortable and in control. Doctors should sit down at the same level as their patients instead of standing in front of them. It’s also important to treat patients like complete people instead of collections of symptoms. This puts patients at ease and makes them feel more comfortable discussing care alternatives, reducing their anxiety and improving their compliance and, ultimately, their health.
Create a Calming Environment
Stress shortens patient stays and reduces the effectiveness of some treatments, so try to create a calming environment throughout the hospital. Some hospitals are taking the novel approach of incorporating zen gardens or other calming landscaping features on the properties. This gives patients a place to go to meditate or just think about life while they aren’t being treated. That feels natural and soothes their nerves.
Some hospitals turn to nature even indoors, incorporating living walls in some common spaces or just installing removable wood walls to hide intimidating medical equipment. These steps pay off by making patients feel calmer and more in control.
Incorporate Proper Lighting
It’s important to strike a balance when it comes to lighting both in patients’ rooms and in common areas. Insufficient lighting can increase stress and make patients feel more fatigued, but harsh lighting can make patients prone to depression and create difficulties with sleeping at night. Direct hallway lights away from the doors to patients’ rooms and dims them at night. In addition, install lights with dimmer switches in patients’ rooms to improve sleep and reduce stress.
The Bottom Line
Hospital environments need to be sterile, but they don’t have to feel that way. There are plenty of steps administrators can take to make hospitals feel more welcoming including minor renovations, landscaping, purchasing new equipment, and providing sensitivity training for medical staff members. By making patients feel less intimidated, these steps can also improve patient-doctor communications and patient satisfaction rates.