A visit to the restroom – it’s a mundane aspect of our humanity, but within the context of a hospital setting, its role and impact are far greater. For many patients, it’s an instant read on a facility’s cleanliness. Its potential to engender trust travels beyond a hospital’s four walls, into a patient’s state of mind and their ability to recover. But in order to take advantage of this opportunity, hospital leadership needs to understand industry trends, ADA requirements, the limitations of their facility, and the inter-departmental partnerships required to develop solutions for tomorrow’s healthcare needs.
At the beginning of each restroom design project, it’s important to keep three key themes in mind: incorporate natural design elements and color for timeless application, create functional spaces that move with the patient, and select materials that emanate the feeling of “clean.”
Designers have access to a nearly endless list of product options these days. And while budget should remain top of mind, also look to incorporate elements and colors from nature – both from a materials and décor perspective – that give occupants a break from the “noise” of a hospital. This can be expressed through stone detailing and the inclusion of serene natural photography. Not only will such photographic elements lend peace to your space, but their authentic nature is less likely to be perceived negatively, in contrast to abstract art.
Next, think about how the space will be used. Start at the door. All restroom doors should be designed to swing into the room. If a door must swing into a hallway, then it should be protected by a wall or alcove to help avoid injury to persons speedily passing by – a near inevitability in hospital settings. Continue your visualization, following the path toward the commode, and install a nice piece of artwork there as your focal point.
Space planning is about striking the right balance between function, regulation and aesthetics. In an ideal world, designers would apply ADA standards across the board, but, given the constraints of most cosmetic renovations, the basic layout of the room will likely remain the same. With your project constraints in mind, attempt to incorporate as many ADA requirements as possible, including installing safety grab bars and meeting sink, mirror and accessory height requirements for the sink area. Also, try to maintain ADA clearances whenever possible – especially the 18″ clearance at the opening side of the door. The last space planning consideration is creating a feeling of clean through intentional trash can placement. Locating a waste receptacle by the door will eliminate the chance of paper towels falling to the floor from visitors using them as protection from germs when opening the door. More…