Getting ready to furnish your healthcare facility’s front lobby, but unsure of where to start? Due to safety and privacy concerns associated with a medical office, designing a waiting room for this type of facility is very different from the typical business office. You’ll want to situate furniture in your reception area differently depending on what type of medical services you offer, but these considerations are a good place to start.
Know your patients. The wellbeing of your patients should be the very first thing to consider before deciding what type of furniture to get and where to put it, so knowing what type of patients you’ll be taking in is the first hurdle. For example, a facility that primarily cares for adult patients should factor in at least 15-20% bariatric seating into the chair mix in their reception area. Likewise, geriatric facilities should provide hip chairs for patients who may have a hard time sitting down and getting up from a traditional chair. Flex-back chairs are also a great addition, since they provide additional comfort for a wider range of people.
Consider comfort. When it comes to the furniture and décor in your waiting room, the goal should be to create a healing atmosphere for your guests. Whether they’re patients or loved ones of patients, there’s often an air of anxiety in a medical facility that can be subdued with the right surroundings. Use calming colors, perhaps with some artwork featuring nature scenes on the walls. You may also want to create separate spaces so that guests have their choice of where to sit based on their needs at the time. Keep a television in one area for guests who would like to unwind with some TV time, but also provide a quiet area with tables for visitors who want to get work done or just get a little peace and quiet. Be sure to also provide a space for children to play, whether your facility is pediatrics-focused or not. Offering free WiFi and up-to-date reading materials will also give your guests something to do while they wait, which will help to calm the nerves.
Think about traffic flow. When planning out the placement of your new reception furniture, make sure to take the flow of traffic into consideration. This is especially important in a medical facility and can save lives in certain instances. You’ll need to have a clear path leading from the parking lot to an exam room in case of an emergency situation, so be sure that you don’t have any furniture that will get in the way of this. Make sure to leave room for both wheelchair and stretcher clearance when making this path, keeping in mind that the turning radius for wheelchairs is at least 60 inches. You will also want to consider wheelchairs when it comes to your reception desk of choice—select a desk with an ADA compliant return.
Ensure privacy. Patient privacy is of the utmost importance in a healthcare setting. Due to this, you’ll want to ensure that all patients are able to keep a reasonable distance from one another so that overhearing conversations between patients and healthcare providers can be avoided. Plan for a realistic waiting room capacity, and provide designated private areas for guests to speak with healthcare providers and clergy members.
Keep it clean. Be thoughtful when it comes to the cleanliness of your waiting room, as this can often become a breeding ground for bacteria and bed bugs if not properly cared for. Ensure that seating has the right kind of upholstery, and clean out spaces between the seat and back. Tables, desks and TV stands should be made of easy-to-clean surfaces that can withstand healthcare grade cleaners. Due to healthcare settings being constantly cleaned and bleached, you’ll want furniture that can withstand rigorous cleaning on a regular basis.
Don’t forget branding. When guests walk into your healthcare facility, they should know where they are immediately. Along with a positive experience, the branding in your hospital or private practice is what will make patients remember your facility. Branding can be done in obvious ways or more subtly, from your logo mounted to the wall in your lobby to your brand colors used in your furniture.
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Read our complete guide to bariatric seating here.
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