Being lost conjures feelings of fear, isolation, abandonment and helplessness. So, it’s a shame when institutions that are supposed to be helping and healing, senior care facilities and hospitals come to mind, are difficult to navigate.

Uniform wall and floor colors, hallways upon hallway and minimal signage can make it easy for the able-bodied and minded to get lost, let alone those who are ill, weak, tired, or battling dementia. Fortunately, modern senior facility and hospital design trends are addressing this critical issue.

Designing Hospitals That Are More Intuitive to Navigate

Plain language. For pity’s sake, use language the average person can understand. Most Latin-based medical terms haven’t made their way into the vernacular. As The WSJ points out, we want to read signs that say, “Ear/Nose/Throat”, rather than Otolaryngology.

ear nose throat

Source: lh4.ggpht.com

Smart navigation. Newer hospitals and medical facilities incorporate smart technology, including touch screens, to help patients and guests navigate more efficiently, and to provide additional information regarding doctors, hospital hours, visiting policies, etc. Some even include full-service kiosks where you can receive a printout with step-by-step instructions for how to proceed to your destination, like a Google Map for the facility.

Hospital kiosk

Locator kiosk. Source: www.lindenshade.com

Thoughtful expansion. One of the biggest hurdles for hospitals and “wayfinding” is the cumbersome annexes and extra wings that are added when a hospital needs to expand. Perhaps hospital design could include infrastructure that makes it easier to build up, rather than out, to minimize confusing sprawl.

long blue hospital corridor

Have you ever been lost in a long hospital corridor? Source: Shutterstock.com

Interested in making your hospital more user-friendly for patients and guests? Contact LS&A Architecture and Interiors.