Undergoing radiation therapy is a stressful experience for cancer patients and it is important that patients build a trusting relationship with the caregivers and the care setting order to better deal with their fear and anxiety. The environment influences the behaviors and the resulting emotions in their journey. By establishing innovative design strategies, we can help patients feel calm, comfortable, confident, and in control. The challenge: Conventional radiotherapy environments are designed around the practical considerations of the technical equipment, and much less around patient’s comfort. Even when the interior space is fitted out with functional features and elements of positive distraction, it often lacks sensitivity to the patient’s core needs. In most cases, these rooms are made of thick walls and there is little possibility to get daylight in.
Healthcare design research suggests that patient environment should be psychologically supportive and provide patients a sense of control, in order to feel satisfied and achieve a sense of well-being. Radiation therapy is a repetitive procedure and patients often lack motivation other than counting the number of remaining treatment days.
The envisaged experience of a patient undergoing radiation therapy is based on two basic design principles: removing the unnecessary and adding what will result in a more engaging experience. The future radiation suite is an enabler of a future care service that includes patient’s participation, personalization of care and a notion of ‘hosting the patient’ while he/she is undergoing the treatment.
When the patient arrives, the first impression is always of a professional and non-intimidating space
where patients feel at the center of attention. Storing the non-related equipment, supplies and functional products in an organized space, makes this possible. Soft ambient lighting is designed to make the room the technical environment. Patients are also provided with a choice of audiovisual theme to help them appear bright and inviting. Soft rounded wall paneling blends the mechanical parts and helps humanize relax. A ‘Progress Wall’ that includes dynamic lighting pattern that grows with each day of the treatment, giving patients a sense of progress and something they will look forward daily.
Patients lie down and are immobilized on the machine bed for treatment. This posture is not always comfortable because of patient’s age or physical weakness and is often a moment of anxiety.4As the 3 treatment begins, the room gets dimmed lighting and a soothing sound is played along with a relaxing nature video on a screen mounted on the ceiling. The sounds, the video and the ambient light are synchronized thematically. Screen visuals are designed using the evidenced based healthcare art principles.