As we embarked on our work for Swedish Medical Center Ballard’s Behavioral Health Unit in Seattle, our client’s primary drivers were to promote patient healing and safety, while providing a safe and calming work environment for staff.
To assess the performance outcomes of the new space and investigate how the physical environment affects the staff, patient and family experience after a full year of operations, ZGF conducted a post-occupancy evaluation – that included surveying 18 behavioral-health unit providers – to benchmark the new facility against these design objectives.
We identified statistically-significant relationships between distinct design elements and the perceived impact on patients and staff.
Results from the analysis show that ZGF’s design decisions promote a calm patient environment, positive patient-care experiences, and a sense of safety.
- Engaging colors and textures in the communal spaces are perceived as soothing and link positive patient experiences directly to the project’s design intent.
- Circadian lighting regulates calming.
- Provider perceptions of physical safety were highly correlated with a reception desk at the main staff workspace area. Custom-milled and built from Corian, its unique shape and textural edges emulate an art feature. The desk doubles as a potential barrier between patients and staff when needed.
- Additional acoustic insulation—a relatively inexpensive solution—could improve the effectiveness of the rooms.
In August 2017, the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory published a report examining the performance of LED lighting in the BHU. The study is a first-of-its-kind exploration of a color-tunable lighting system commissioned as part of a large-scale renovation project.
Co-authored by ZGF, the study demonstrates that circadian lighting controls and luminaries can be designed, specified, commissioned, and validated with a spectrometer to match known circadian lighting metrics throughout the day—and from different patient vantage points.