By Simon Dupont, Regional Sales Coordinator
Hospitals throughout the UK are fit to bursting. The NHS has already seen patient number rise by more than 30% in the last decade to almost 16m* and, with the UK’s population set to grown by a further 6m by 2030, space is literally running out.
Working closely with the healthcare profession, I’ve seen first-hand the challenges hospitals are facing. Estates and Facilities teams have to tackle the big question: Where will we put everyone?
Managers are having to find smarter, and affordable, ways of accommodating an increasing number of in and out patients, plus all of the equipment and furniture needed to support them. Where budget permits, major capital projects to build new wards and departments also need to be managed.
Among the common challenges are:
· Trying to squeeze ever more furniture into areas
· The need for additional IT and other equipment taking up critical space
· The requirement for larger furniture – such as bariatric support
· Inpatients with expensive belongings such as smart phones and tablets and needing to store them securely.
Here are a few helpful tips that I’ve picked up along the way that will help:
⁻ Consider having a cupboard clear out - is all of the equipment and paperwork really needed?
⁻ With a bit of creative thinking some hospitals have transformed large storage cupboards into clinic rooms, could that work for you?
⁻ Re-think what storage options day patients really need. A locker could perhaps be replaced with a fold-down table mounted on the side of chair.
⁻ Where wards need wardrobe space, mounting one on the back of a locker rather than to the side will take up less room.
⁻ There’s no getting away from the fact that bariatric furniture is wide and takes up space. While it’s a must in some areas, consider whether it can be stored centrally.
Sleek and slim
⁻ When it comes to trolleys go up rather than out. Slimline ranges offer ample storage solutions at a fraction of the floor space.
⁻ Likewise, many patient chairs now come with slimmer armrests which are just as comfortable and save space!
Stack ‘em up
⁻ While a core part of any ward, free standing furniture can cause a major headache when not in use. Folding or nesting options provides a solution. Nesting IV poles and folding wheelchairs can be stored more easily.
Set space free
⁻ Even simply repositioning furniture can free- up space you didn’t realise you had.
⁻ Moving reception furniture can make greater use of space and fit in more chairs. Just remember to take expert advice on fire safety and disabled access requirements.
⁻ While traditionally people have always had a dedicated work desk there is a trend towards more flexible working. For example, using a mobile computer workstation which will take up less wall space.
⁻ For new build projects, many of the above steps can be used to help future-proof spaces.
⁻ Architects can work hand-in-hand with furniture suppliers to create a smart space that not only maximises every area but is also spot-on for patient and hospital staff wellbeing.
⁻ Not only that, but most furniture can be manufactured in a huge range of colours to compliment any colour scheme.
There are plenty of space saving options out there. Making small changes to the furniture used and where it’s placed can make a big difference.
If in doubt, talk to an expert who will guide you through the whole process. Remember, every little helps!
*Source: NHS Confederation.