While today’s healthcare industry is looking for innovations to improve restorative staff environments to combat burnout and improve well-being, there’s a huge gap in the literature for strong evidence and design guidelines for these areas in healthcare facilities, said Adeleh Nejati, healthcare planner and researcher at HMC Architects during the HCD Virtual session “Design of Staff Restorative Environments: A Replicated Research on Places of Respite.” Furthermore, she added, “We know in addition to supporting recruitment and retention, healthier and more satisfied nurses can provide higher quality of care that translates to higher patient and families’ satisfaction.”

In 2015, Nejati looked at the issue as part of PhD dissertation on restorative design features for hospital staff break areas, conducting a survey with medical-surgical nurses. Fast forward to 2020, and she replicated the study with nurse leaders to compare the research findings on designing nurses’ restorative spaces in healthcare facilities through the lens of nurse leadership versus bedside nurses.

During the session, Nejati, along with presenters Erin Clark, healthcare operations specialist at ClarkRN, and Linda Knodel, national nursing strategy and leadership at Kaiser Permanente, shared some main takeaways from those findings:

  • Contemporary clinical practice is challenging and complex, resulting in stress from responding to that reality. On a scale of 0-10 (with 0 being low), 68 percent of medical-surgical nurses rated their level of stress 7 or higher and 64 percent of nurse leaders rated their level of stress 7 or higher. “The result is comparable between two groups with slightly more bedside nurses being highly stressed,” Nejati said.
  • Looking at activities for nurses to relieve stress and make them feel more refreshed, medical-surgical nurses preferred taking a break, breathing, talking, and having lunch, while nurse leaders had more responses regarding going outside and taking a walk, Nejati said. “We can explain this difference in a sense that medical-surgical or bedside nurses are mostly tied to their patients, so opportunities for them to go outside and to take a walk are very limited,” she said. “The question is, ‘How could we make these opportunities more accessible for them’?”
  • For both groups, the level of unsatisfaction with the staff break room in the unit were much higher compared to their level of unsatisfaction with the facility cafeteria or garden. Nejati said there could be several reasons for this. “First, we usually design better public spaces within a facility like a cafeteria or public garden than a staff break room in the unit, which specifically serves nurses. Second, nurses use their break room in the unit every day and they hardly go to the cafeteria or facility garden during their break time to have a better understanding of the amenities that can corelate with high level of satisfaction,” she said.

In closing, Clark stressed the importance for this research to better understand the needs of the clinical teams. “Our goal is to collect and present data that will assist designers when working with organizations and to present new and innovative ways to think about how these spaces can look and function,” she said.

Missed HCD Virtual? Don’t worry. Registration is still open, and all sessions will be available on demand through the end of the year. Visit HCDvirtual.com for more information.

Tracey Walker is managing editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at tracey.walker@emeraldx.com.