The old, cramped unit had been oversubscribed for years, with patients sometimes having to travel further afield for treatments, or to be admitted to the hospital overnight as a result. The lack of space meant little privacy and dignity during treatments, it also meant it wasn’t always possible to discuss information in private, or for everyone to have family and friends with them during their treatment.
Respecting patient and visitor modesty, privacy and dignity and their involvement within the design process.
The collective team envisaged a unit full of natural light, spacious treatment bays and excellent way-finding signage. Macmillan Cancer Support worked with patient groups to create internal design features with artwork being undertaken by Willis Newson. This resulted in three themes throughout the unit aiding way-finding, all of which reflected local Suffolk scenery from woodland, coastal and heathland areas. Patients also picked the bright colour scheme throughout, creating a bright, friendly environment.
There have been numerous, important improvements made to enhance patient and visitor modesty, privacy and dignity:
- Rotated nurse bays so people entering the unit are welcomed by staff
- A separate teenage/young adult area within the unit
- Increasing treatment spaces from 12 to 30
- Dedicated staff room, improving staff well-being
- A separate walk-way from the consulting rooms so patients enter and leave without walking through the chemo bays
- 13 new consulting rooms, allowing patients and family to discuss their cases with medical staff in private
- Two new private chemo bays for those who become ill during treatment
- Designated ‘quiet rooms’ for patients to have the time they need to take in information/sit with family. The quiet rooms also allow patients to exit directly out of the unit instead of having to walk back through the treatment and consultation areas.
Creating an inspirational, therapeutic sense of place.
A comfortable, roomy waiting area allows patients, family and friends to relax nearby before treatment starts. When entering the expansive space patients are guided to bright, airy treatment bays with large windows looking out onto themed garden courts, creating enough space for family/friends. The gardens provide a temporary retreat and visual link with inside themes.
Ensuring a fit for purpose space, demonstrating innovation and setting a precedent for future design:
- The new design means 21,000 people could be seen a year, up from only 9,000 due to new chemo suites and an additional 21 treatment bays. The increased capacity will bring down waiting times and help avoid unnecessary overnight admissions. It should free up staff to spend more time treating patients rather than trying to manoeuvre equipment in tight spaces.
- Each room provides green lighting, making it easier for nurses to locate their patient’s veins.
- Treatment bays have individual heating/cooling control panels, allowing maximum patient comfort.
- The unit is also the first Chemotherapy Day Unit in the country to have self-service check-in system, providing further patient privacy and freeing more time for staff.