Whittington Health NHS Trust found the demand for acute services was rising and there was a clinical need for expanding the ambulatory care to offer more people the opportunity to have same day treatment.
The hospital realised the design process was a central part of understanding and creating a space that found new ways of delivering care, improved experiences for the patients, and overall integrated staff and departments.
Following a successful collaborative design partnership with the Design Council to improve the outpatients’ pharmacy department, the hospital commissioned Studio TILT to deliver an innovative scheme through the same codesign approach. Levitt Bernstein then took this scheme forward to deliver the space. The result is an innovative centre for emergency care designed around the patients’ needs, staff requirements and smooth departmental flow – equipped with the latest facilities within a distinctly calm environment.
Studio TILT used their people-centred approach to explore and test what was really required for the space, by involving patients and staff in the design process. At the heart of the new centre’s effectiveness, was a series of design objectives to create a functional, yet ground breaking department including an enhanced patient experience, intuitive and clinically directed layout, clear signage and branding with increased health promotion and improved staff experience.
In order to fully understand the patient experience, how the centre needed to operate and the staff requirements for these objectives, Studio TILT ran workshops with more than 70 people across the Trust. These included managers, clinicians, administrators, infection prevention and control staff and patients. This gave everyone using the space a voice in the design process. From the codesign workshop results and creation of full-scale mock-ups, the space was developed for elements such as the treatment rooms, sluices, scanners, ultrasound and phlebotomy alongside support and outreach resources for teleconferencing, seminars and integrated community services spaces. A communal area was formed from the central space, ensuring seamless movement between treatments, helping to reduce waiting times while creating a tranquil setting. Challenging the traditional healthcare environment, the new design improves the patient experience in many ways including direct access to natural light and natural ventilation within as many areas as possible. A simple switch of corridor and treatment rooms, for example, means that it is the rooms that receive the natural light and ventilation rather than the corridor. These factors improve both the staff experience and productivity, but more importantly the wellbeing of patients.
This was an ambitious project. We wanted the needs of the patients to come first. Incorporating workshops at the beginning of the process, the needs of patients and staff were understood and addressed in the design. The collaborative effort has produced a beautiful yet functional space where the patient experience is excellent, there is lots of interaction and the clinicians can function efficiently.
Clarissa Murdoch, Lead Consultant Ambulatory Care
With concepts, an exhaustive prototyping process and a robust scheme in place, architecture practice Levitt Bernstein took over the schemes, to realise this innovative project ensuring technical standards required in a hospital environment were met. The dynamic space had to allow for a huge range of different departments with a wide spectrum of treatments for children and adults. Key to the design was the idea that this should be a new kind of space; a chance to create a world-class unit that didn’t feel like a hospital.
The plan was developed to allow more natural light to penetrate the depth of the space, again stepping away from institutional aesthetic conventions and simultaneously removing a need for extra artificial light sources. Most importantly, the new Whittington Ambulatory Care Centre provides a place of accessibility and warmth for patients and clinicians to provide both same day emergency and urgent review care for the community in a safe and relaxing environment.
The space was opened by Norman Lamb, Minister for Care and Support. At the opening he said, “This is a wonderful setting to receive treatment – I have enormous admiration for the leadership of this hospital who have bought about this centre with a clear vision of an integrated system. It’s great to be here and a real honour to undertake the official opening.”