Innovative Staff Areas––A Critical Component for More Impactful Cancer Care

September 21, 2019

Optimizing the nursing function is a key design consideration to improve the patient experience and patient-reported outcomes

The unsung heroes of oncological care––nurses and other support staff––play a pivotal role in ensuring the well-being of patients receiving cancer treatment.

Many studies have illustrated the direct correlation between nurse optimization and patient-reported outcomes. It is often attributed to how nurses improve the continuity of care while simultaneously reducing patient anxiety in their role as the first point of contact for a patient. Nurses who provide critical clinical support need to constantly be on their game to ensure that patients receive the treatment they need when they need it.

Therefore, optimizing the nursing function is a key design consideration to improve the patient experience and patient-reported outcomes.

Only one question remains: how can nursing staff be optimized?

Purposeful design

Nurses serve as primary points of contact for oncological patients by conducting routine screenings, offering support following surgery, or helping to manage the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy. They are critical to ensuring that patients move through their cancer treatments as seamlessly as possible, while serving as bulwarks against the complexities of a system that can easily become overwhelming.

To provide a better patient experience, nursing staff require workstations that are thoughtfully designed for improved visibility with easy access into patient rooms. As a rule of thumb, the sicker a patient, the more eyes you want on him or her. This is particularly true in oncological care, where patients’ needs are many and are often more challenging due to the unique nature of cancer treatment.

Related: What Physicians Want to Reduce Burnout

Innovative workstations designed to specifically cater to these needs can be found at Hackensack Meridian Ocean Medical Center. These stations are curved to provide easy in/out access with clearer sight lines into patient rooms, allowing staff to respond quickly to patients. Clearer sight lines also improve physical accessibility, since there are no obstacles between nurses and patients.

Each workstation is also equipped with a sink to provide nurses with the privacy to gown-up and wash their hands before tending to immune-compromised patients, which supports better infection control.

With workstations placed in strategic locations, patients have a sense of calm knowing that nursing care is only steps away.Enabling staff wellness

Over the years, studies have shown that nursing staff burnout is a major issue in healthcare, given the demanding nature of the job. To ensure that they are able to provide optimum levels of care on a consistent basis, methods to minimize stress and provide a supportive environment need to be addressed.

Designers need to work closely with clinical care providers focusing on:

  • Respite Stations – Staff require an area that shields them from the demanding nature of their jobs when on break. Whether it’s a “yin room” where they can compose themselves, a secluded nook providing optical privacy and sunlight, or something else, these rooms are a critical component of staff longevity.

  • Camaraderie – Nurses and other staff members who thrive off of communal support will benefit greatly from workstations that are strategically designed to facilitate peer-to-peer engagement and collaboration. This also benefits younger staffers, who will be able to be more effectively mentored by their peers in a setting that enables increased interaction.

  • Balance – While staff require improved visibility and easy accessibility into patient rooms, that doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from a measure of privacy themselves. Staff can benefit greatly from being shielded from the inherently exhausting day-to-day challenges of cancer care.

Designs that address the needs of nursing staff and patients is critical in hospitals providing cancer care. With improved visibility to patient rooms, a focus on central working zones that drive collaboration and mentoring, as well as staff rooms that provide privacy for respite, patient care can be elevated to be more impactful.

Annabella Koloskov, is senior medical planner, EYP.