Exemplar Health funds RMIT research into hospital design

August 10, 2016: Today at the Bendigo Hospital Project, the Exemplar Health consortium chief executive Michele Morrison launched a research project to be conducted by RMIT, in partnership with Exemplar Health and Bendigo Health. Spanning a three-year period, evaluating both old and new hospital designs, this new study will be based on the hospital’s psychiatric services unit and will evaluate the experiences of its patients, staff and visitors.

With funding of $120k from Exemplar Health, this ‘Design for Wellbeing Research Project’ will be undertaken in two stages, completing its findings in 2018. It aims to provide key insights into how people experience the psychiatric services unit in both the existing Bendigo Health facility and the new Bendigo Hospital to be opened in late January 2017.

According to Ms Morrison, the project will produce new knowledge into the impact of hospital design.
“This study is important – because it focuses on investigating the relationship between users of a physical environment and their ‘lived experience’ of those particular spaces – and the Exemplar Health consortium is proud to support this research.”

Ms Morrison said the research project would pave the way for more effective use and future improvement to design, and will also involve discussions with planners, designers and project teams.
“The research will look into a broad set of aspects including the ‘whole of design’ – architecture, landscape and interiors, to assist in our continual improvement in healthcare infrastructure projects,” she said.

According to Bendigo Health psychiatric services executive director, Associate Professor, Philip Tune the research outcomes will have far-reaching, positive effects.
“From a Bendigo Health perspective, this research project is a very welcome and timely study,” he said.

“In our existing facility, our psychiatric inpatient units spread across three campus sites, however the new hospital will enable us to co-locate, streamlining communications and making consultations far easier for both patients and staff,” Professor Tune said.

At the new 80-bed psychiatry precinct, advancements in design will provide healthcare professionals with new facilities, such as the purpose-designed parent-infant unit, which enables a parent, who has a significant mental illness, to stay in the hospital with their baby.
“It’s important we appreciate the broader design principles applied to our new hospital, which will also offer greater access to green outlooks, courtyard spaces and natural light – all aspects that are proven to bring about a calmer, safer and a more positive environment,” he added.

The project is being undertaken by Distinguished Professor Sarah Pink; Professor Laurene Vaughan and research fellow, Dr Shanti Sumartojo from the RMIT School of Media and Communication’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre and Design Futures Lab.

According to Professor Pink, this project will lead to new understandings of how new and old hospital sites are experienced.
“This study is a fantastic opportunity, and with the ethnographic research methods we use, we can learn first-hand from participants what the hospital building and service designs feel like from their standpoint”

“A key ambition of this project is to demonstrate how collaboration between the academic and the private sector can help transform ground-breaking research into design advances for healthcare facilities,” she concluded.#ends#