Colour and lighting in hospital design
Little information or guidance has been available to assist the development of a hospital's visual environment. A report on lighting and colour design schemes, accessible to non professionals with responsibility for refurbishment strategies, was required by NHS Estates. Firstly, 20 hospitals were audited to establish a picture of current practice and to identify key issues where colour design could broadly enhance the environment for patients, staff and visitors. Critical areas were outlined in this report, where colour design can be utilised and applied, for the benefit of all users, from ambience to essential legal requirements such as colour contrast for the visually impaired.
Provision of staff relaxation rooms that are different in terms of colour and lux levels from immediate work spaces, or thoughtfully designed areas for patients awaiting intensive treatment, have been shown to have some beneficial effects on a sense of well being. Colour and design have not been established as a definite cure for sickness and ill health, but certainly monotony and poor conditions in premises that have not been refurbished with any care, have had a detrimental affect on recovery rates and staff morale. The realisation that a well balanced and attractive environment is of major importance to patients’ health is, in no way new; Florence Nightingale observed that ‘a variety of form and brilliance of colour in the objects presented to patients are an actual means of recovery’.