Early Feedback Brings Project Success
The effective design process includes visioning sessions, focus groups, and mock-ups. All is relevant to providing the most patient-focused design solutions. However, some interior architectural design firms simply blow through the design process utilizing the typical FGI Guidelines and seemingly provide a decent result. Or do they?
The proof is in the post-occupancy evaluation. Did the patients' path of travel intersect with the staff at key steps in the process or were there shortcuts in the cycle of care? The staff needs to understand the patient's path and buy into it. Otherwise, they ignore the space design and adjust the signage to meet their needs thereby changing the patient's course of travel. I know this from experience.
If the patient intuitively understands where to go and what to do, they do not need a staff member to assist them. Nurses and physicians must be on board in the planning process to show the patient how to maneuver the space. I find that as a designer, my biggest ally, source of information, and advocate is the people who work in the space. A relaxed and happy staff provides a relaxed and happy patient.
During the focus groups, the community voices "wants and needs" based on the culture of the neighborhood and geographical area. Unique idiosyncrasies surface at these sessions and the designer begins to understand and "feel" the group's needs and aspirations. This provides the background and foundation to build the design. In short, get to know what is fun and interesting to the people who will occupy the space. They will appreciate your attention to detail.
Show photos in the visioning session to get feedback. I have found that what I picture in my mind can often be totally different than what a nurse or focus group participant was conveying to me. Interpretation of thought is important and continual feedback along the design process eliminates surprises in the end result.
Finally, mock-ups of strategic areas uncover a wealth of information to discuss. Physical placement of tools and design of spacial proximity provide the 3D representation that many cannot grasp until the they see and touch the environment. Once constructed in the field, it is too late to make costly changes and concessions are made. This leads to disappointing compromises to the flow of their space and no client wants to end with
less than they bargained for after waiting years for a new and technologically advanced space.