This might sound like a nonsense question an AI made up after reading 100 hours of our commercial doors blog, but it’s actually a pretty salient question. Believe it or not, there is an architecture to healing – how places like hospitals, hospice care and mental health facilities design their spaces has an impact on mindset and quality of life for patients, and that includes their specialized doors and windows.

These sorts of medical facilities all have obstacles to overcome with their door and window arrangement, or fenestration. There are needs for remote openers and video monitoring, automated door operations, doors and air curtains for clean rooms, and much more. These are all logistical issues, but they have to be taken into account even when you’re switching to patient-centered fenestration and interior design.

Hallmarks of “Healing” Architecture

The goal of room and window design in any patient facility is to reduce the physical and/or mental stress of the patients. Zero out of ten people are calm and chill about going to a hospital, elderly home or rehab facility; if your facility’s layout is open, welcoming and peaceful, it will lower patient stress levels. And it’s widely agreed-upon in the medical community that lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, leads to better health and healing.

How do we go about accomplishing this?

1. Clean doesn’t have to mean cold.

Do we need those fiberglass doors for clean rooms and reinforced steel access doors for patient security? Yes. Do they need to be sterile-white or depression-beige? No. Especially when you’re talking fiberglass or coated steel doors, you can go crazy with the colors. Choose calm blues, greys and yellows, or go fun and bright with bold colors.

2. Let in all the natural light you can.

Windows, windows, windows. Natural light’s effect on mood is real. Not only that, but an interior environment is so much more dynamic when you can see what’s going on outside from many angles. Whether it’s business sliding glass doors or steel doors flanked by tall windows, make entryways light and open. It makes the place feel less… mandatory.

In one acute psychiatric clinic, staff saw a 70% drop in as-needed antipsychotic injections when the common space was filled with posters of nature. It’s fake windows, but you get the point. And if you’re thinking that windows might pose a risk in a psych clinic, know that today’s options for reinforced window glass aren’t able to be shattered.

3. Provide patients access to outdoor spaces.

Obviously outdoor activity allows for risk in some circumstances like rehabs, mental health facilities, and in dementia patients at elderly care homes. However, everyone needs to be outside sometimes. Consider installing a big aluminum and glass overhead door that leads from the common or visiting space into a secured courtyard. You can leave it open all day on nice days and use a pedestrian door next to it when the weather is bad. As well, hospital gardens are becoming more popular as 9.5/10 people who walk through an intentional garden in a healthcare facility self-report therapeutic effects.

4. Create community spaces.

Isolation is a huge complaint in every sort of patient facility. Make sure your common space is open, bright, warm, and with tonnes of amenities. Things for people to do and watch; comfy nooks for reading, a visiting area. Consider also installing a music room – music and other arts can be therapeutic in a variety of settings.

A Healthcare Space that Feels Closer to Home

The gist of it is, try to make this commercial medical space feel like home. That means all the comforts patients need to feel safe, secure and stable. Couches, blankets, TVs, games, scheduled activities, access to great food – consider what it should feel like if they were staying at home and go from there. That means warming up windows with curtain treatments, painting interior and exterior doors, providing bedding that isn’t scratchy, sterile and white, making sure door and window security hardware isn’t noticeable so it doesn’t feel like a prison.

In hospital settings, just increasing natural light alone has been shown to reduce patient stay time and increase employee productivity. So has patient rooms with windows of tree views instead of walls. Isn’t it crazy how much your mindset can affect your physical health?

If you’re retrofitting your healthcare facility and need specialized doors and windows that you can actually design to make special, SACS DOOR & GATE CORP is your local supplier, installer and servicer of all kinds of door and gate equipment for commercial, industrial, medical, office, retail settings and more.