Patient Experience in Oncological Facilities

As times have progressed, architectural design has dissipated into 3 basic entities i.e. Function, Aesthetics and Experience. The third aspect is the main focus of this study, whereby the
targeted space is the oncology facility and the primary user of said space is the patient.
According to Maggie Keswick Jones (a Cancer patient and pioneer of Maggie’s centres worldwide), architecture is indeed capable of demoralizing patients. However, it simultaneously
has the ability to prove restorative. Roger S. Ulrich postulates that a person receiving medical treatment requires 2 basic needs to be addressed i.e. the physiological need (treatment of
the disease) and the psychological need (treatment of the emotional and mental state that accompanies diagnosis, treatment and aftercare). This remains true for cancer patients as well.
This study therefore seeks to establish exactly how the architectural design of an oncology facility can be used to positively influence patient experience and subsequently staff and visitor
experience as well. The findings of Roger Ulrich, Array, Henning Larsen and C.F. Moller architects put forth 7 parameters that govern overall experience in healthcare facilities. Those are
access to nature, provision of control, lighting, way-finding, positive distraction, respite and interior design.
This study outlines the findings from 2 particular cases. The criteria that governed the case choice was based on the need to illustrate what is happening in developed countries versus
what is happening locally with regard to the architectural design of Cancer treatment facilities. The international case chosen was Tata Medical Centre in Kolkata, India. This acted as the
benchmark under which the local case was then compared. The local case chosen was Cancer Care Kenya in Parklands, Nairobi. The case studies were broken down into the 7 factors
under which each was critically examined i.e nature, control, light, way-finding, distraction, respite and interior design. The success or lack thereof of the architectural responses to each
factor was then very closely investigated and documented.
The findings show that before the design of a treatment facility of this nature takes place, it is imperative to first understand the intended user’s needs i.e. the patient, the staff and the
visitor. They also reveal that architectural design can indeed create an environment that can be said to have a healing nature for all its users. However, this can only be achieved if the 7
parameters mentioned above are addressed adequately. It was also noted that the parameters do not act as singular entities. Rather, they work symbiotically to achieve the common goal
i.e a positive user experience for the patient, their visitors and the staff e.g. via providing a central courtyard to provide access to nature, control and way-finding are also provided as the
courtyard serves as an organizing principle. Again, natural lighting, a positive distraction and a place of respite can all be created via the incorporation of the same courtyard. Last but
not least, the findings indicated that the patient’s experience is also tied to the staff and visitor experience. Via a balanced and carefully calculated incorporation of the 7 parameters, the
psychological needs of the patient, their visitors and the staff begin to receive the appropriate level of attention. This then leads to reduced recovery times for patients, which achieves
the main goal i.e. wholesome treatment.
 

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