It’s no surprise that mental health professionals are in high demand given the current 2 year-long global pandemic. As a nation, we are struggling with increased rates of depression, anxiety and insomnia. In August 2021, Lifeline Australia reported 3,345 callers in one day – the highest volume of calls in the organizations 58-year history. So today, we’ll be examining the physical infrastructure of an important Allied Health service – psychology.
Before the pandemic more Australian’s were visiting psychologists than ever before. According to The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2018, 1.3 million mental health plans were written. Given the effects of COVID, this figure is only set to expand but can Australian health services keep up? Dr Zena Burgess from the Australian Psychological Society has said the shortage of mental health support is being felt across Australia, particularly in regional locations. While the use of online tools may help provide important coping mechanisms, she acknowledges that this won’t solve client issues. Therefore, more infrastructure will need to be built for this important Allied Health service. She envisions a future where seeing a psychologist is as easy as visiting your local GP. So, what will these new psychology offices look like & why?
Research suggests that office designs can heavily impact the patient experience. Environmental stressors, healing environments and even the transaction between a psychologist and client during therapy sessions can all be influenced by the interior. Your healthcare fit-out should consider these factors when designing the foundation of your office. First, make sure your fit-out team have a thorough understanding of your technical and operational needs along with your business vision. While building a state-of-the-art health space that looks fantastic is important, having the correct foundation is priority number one. Functional designs that help improve patient outcomes and let your staff work more efficiently are paramount to clinic success.
Your fit-out & design must meet the needs imposed by your therapeutics transactions. Therefore, your office fit-out might utilise a layout that emphasises privacy and distinguishes between areas such as the reception, safe therapy spaces and functional amenities. Often medical facilities encourage the use of natural light, however, it’s suggested to use a combination of reeded textured glass and frosted film window screening to increase privacy and encourage patient comfort. Your psychology office should also have adequate storage for medical equipment to ensure that treatment is as seamless as possible.
The interior design of your medical office fit-out will be dependent on your location and preferred aesthetic, however, certain best practices are encouraged for optimal patient treatment. Don’t include fluorescent lighting as this may lead to client discomfort and anxiety. Avoid abstract works of art as they can trigger negative interpretations. Vibrant colours should be kept to a minimum and clutter should be managed to avoid provoking any associate anxiety or stress. It’s believed for enhanced holistic healing; the office environment should also be soothing.
Try incorporating biophilic elements into your health fit-out. Roger Ulrich’s 1984 study that examined the impacts of natural elements on patient health, found hospital in-patients with views of trees spent fewer days in the hospital, had more positive health evaluations and required less post-op treatments. Biophilic design can be as simple as including views of natural elements such as water, trees, indoor plants, landscape paintings and natural lighting. You may want to consider adopting neutral tones and natural textures such as timber or stone to reduce stress and facilitate therapeutic transitions.
It is also important to consider the patient versus psychologist perspective on interior design. While you may see your office as a comfortable space with views of bookshelves and framed images, clients may not have the same perspective. We suggest taking a seat in your patient’s chair, sit back and closely examine their unique view. Decide on what works and what doesn’t. If all your clients see is a cluttered desk and you blinking at a computer screen, it may be time to invest in a medical office fit-out that reimagines your medical space.
Now patient comfort is an obvious factor that’s vital in assisting you to perform your role, however, let’s take a minute to think about the important medical professional delivering this vital service. In a position that centres around helping others, it is easy to forget about the psychologist interacting with these medical environments daily. Well House Paddington is an exciting new space designed with health professionals in mind. The curated environment offers a soothing space for clients & professionals to slow down, take a breath and refocus. The health and wellness facility provides healthcare practitioners with private and spacious consulting rooms and a fully-equipped staff zone. This refreshing concept will likely be the future of health and can be implemented across Australia to manage the growing demand for crisis support and mental health services. By taking a considered design approach & fit-out these medical spaces not only benefit patients but health professionals alike.