Nau mai, haere mai to Waitākere Hospital


Luke, Phoebe and Zora worked with the Patient Experience team at Waitematā DHB to explore how the main reception and entrance at Waitākere hospital could be made to be more welcoming for patients, their whānau and staff.

The group was tasked with designing the main reception at Waitākere hospital to make it more welcoming. They were given a budget of $12,000.  

From observation and feedback, several areas for improvement were identified. There is confusion over whether to go to volunteers or the receptionist first. And the noise from the cafe is distressing. They facilitated a co-design activity to help generate feedback and insights. Receiving input from Front of House, volunteers, the Well Foundation, and the Patient Experience team. This helped create a list of priorities for change. In order of importance, as follows:

It is integral the reception and volunteers station moves to the left. It is tikanga to be welcomed from this side. The welcome station is in a visitor's line of sight upon entering. And it is intuitive to navigate this way. It helps with the flow of traffic and for any future covid screening. There is an opportunity to create an extra meeting room behind the reception. 

There is a great deal of noise coming from the machines in the cafe. Although invisible to the eye, soundproofing will enhance the visitor experience. Noisy environments aggravate patients, triggering blood pressure, affecting wound healing, and pain management. It impacts on staff’s ability to communicate, process information, and their stress levels. 

According to a 2016 survey by Waitematā DHB, Waitākere Hospital is the most difficult to navigate. Signs are confusing and unwelcoming. They are inconsistent in size, colour, and style. Most are illegible, as they are far too small for even those without visual impairments to read. The language used is also difficult for ESOL speakers to understand.

There needs to be a diverse range of seating to cater for varying visitor needs. It makes a good first and last impression of the hospital. The faeces-coloured wall desperately needs a refresh. There is an opportunity to contextualise the hospital into the surrounding landscape, using a mural decal of the Waitākere Ranges. 

They made a few quick changes to test how their proposed concept might be successful. Moving the big pot plants into the airlock created a gentle transition into the hospital. Setting back the volunteers desk allowed visitors to breathe when they first walk in and get a sense of where they were. This helped to make traffic move more freely into and around the entrance. The carpeted area creates a clear zone for waiting visitors, while a new signage from salvaged material and a laser cut design welcomes them to the hospital. The volunteers shop sign was upgraded, consolidating three signs into one, with the opening times being included on the reverse side of the sign when its closed.

This is the proposed redesign of the space. This image showcases a new integrated FOH and volunteers desk on the left-hand side. This change makes the main reception appear spacious and feel calmer. Visitors can wait in the seating area on the right and they are able to view out the window. The Manea stone would sit at the entrance on the left side. 

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Here's what the students said of their experience:

Zora Situ — "The opportunity to work with Good Health Design over the summer has been enriching and worthwhile. It was rewarding to face and overcome the challenges of the real world that we don’t experience in our undergrad. I am grateful to have worked with Luke and Phoebe and for the Patient Experience team and GHD."

Phoebe Lee — "Our summer studentship experience has been an insightful practice into industry. It has been delightful working with Zora and Luke. Along with Allanah and David from the Patient Experience team at Waitematā DHB. I have gained confidence and learned patience as a designer. Although our impact was subtle, I hope we made a positive influence on the visitor experience at Waitākere Hospital."

Luke Bretnall — "My experience working with Good Health Design was a valuable and challenging learning adventure. I use the word adventure because the projects we worked on consisted of many adversities and boundaries. Although these moments were difficult to overcome, these are the environments where designers grow and develop their skills the most. The team at GHD were extremely supportive of our intentions throughout the projects and helped to transfer the tricky situations into invaluable learning experiences."

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