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THE psychiatric unit of the new Bendigo hospital will be the focus of research into the impact of the built environment on patients, staff and visitors.
RMIT University researchers have embarked on a three-year project that will investigate the relationship between the design of the facility and the experiences of those who use it.
The Design for Wellbeing research project will be done in two stages: the first looking at the current psychiatric facilities, and the second after services transfer to the new unit in January next year.
Distinguished Professor Sarah Pink from RMIT said the research would both benefit Bendigo Health in understanding its own facility, and inform the planning of future health facilities.
“The insights... will enable us to think forward to the future for future hospital design, to know what we need to understand in advance of hospital design, to be able to understand potential impacts and how to account for that, and also how to research hospital design and the impact of design in the future,” Professor Pink said.
Bendigo Health psychiatric services executive director Associate Professor Philip Tune said the health service’s geographically separate psychiatric services would be brought together under one roof in the new unit, nearly doubling capacity from 42 to 80 inpatient beds.
Dr Tune said the unit was designed to be home-like, with the aim of making people feel calm and safe to aid their recovery.
He said patients would have control over access to their private rooms.
“In addition they can open their own window, and that’s not available anywhere else in the hospital, so we’re very pleased that they’ve got at least that little bit of autonomy and control over their own environment,” Dr Tune said.
“But every bedroom has a green outlook, there’s an abundance of natural light in the facility compared to our existing facilities… and space to move.”
The facility will have four co-located units, including the first parent-and-child unit in regional Victoria, in which parents will be able to have their child stay with them as they receive treatment.
It will also be located in the main hospital building.
“We’re integrated properly into the hospital as part of health, which of course psychiatry should be,” Dr Tune said.
“I think that helps in terms of safety and quality of care provided to patients, as well as reducing stigma because it’s just part of health.”
The Exemplar Health consortium, the group of companies responsible for the new hospital, has provided $120,000 in funding for the research project.
“This research, we are anticipating, will highlight both the new hospital’s successes and its areas for advancement to assist our continuing improvement in other healthcare infrastructure projects,” Exemplar Health chief executive officer Michele Morrison said.
Professor Pink said that while researchers in other countries had undertaken similar research at hospitals, to her knowledge there had not been any that focused on psychiatric facilities.