Great design and affordable hospital furniture may seem like poles, but they’re not as far away as you might think. Healthcare furniture vendors are increasingly combining the inspiration of classic designers with the strengths of manufacturing techniques to improve quality while lowering costs.
Hospitals have recognized the health and rehabilitation benefits of improving ward and department aesthetics, while furniture manufacturers are breaking out of the cycle of producing only furniture, and customers say they want to offer them new products that are better for both patients and healthcare professionals, while providing better overall value for the service.
Provide greater value
Lower manufacturing cost:
Mass production of furniture using techniques such as plastic injection, 3D printing and high-pressure laminated wood, coupled with the low cost of producing furniture, enables furniture companies to provide robust and stylish furniture to hospitals at a low cost.
The ongoing challenge of addressing the risk of infection has heavily influenced the design of furniture, particularly the types of materials used. Antimicrobial coverings are now standard practice, and we’re seeing a shift from wood-framed furniture to welded steel — it binds less to bacteria and is stronger and more durable.
Smarter design does not always mean more or more complex. Often in hospital furniture, you need to make things simpler, easier, faster.
For example, Sepsis trolleys with six clearly marked drawers ensure that the care team needs to be within reach, rather than complex trolleys with lots of accessories. Or a recliner that requires little return force and doesn’t rely on electric mechanisms that can be broken more easily.
Improved design and ergonomics
Brevity must also be practical. This is where clever design comes in – from chairs and quick-release tables with easy-to-clean detachable parts to nested IV stands that save space when not in use.
Inspired by great people:
You can see examples of good design in wards and departments across the country. While the end result may be more suited to their environment, some classic lines and style are reflected in the iconic pieces.
Take the armchair, for example. Angled seats, wide arms and steel frames echo the head of the bed and lounge chairs, and wide comfortable seats, low backs and wooden frames resemble many of the chairs seen in the department. Similarly, the casual furniture style can be seen in the waiting area and the staff area.
New design and manufacturing techniques offer hospitals more options.
But with that comes the need for more guidance. More choice leads to more confusion, and it’s up to furniture companies to make sure each customer has the right product for them.
So maybe it’s time to give our hospital wards and departments more respect. The furniture is not affordable and strong enough to withstand continuous use, but it is designed with some advantages in mind!