Stance Behavioral Health Sponsored Two March 2021 Behavioral Health Webinars, Presented by the Center for Health Design – Here’s Our Recap

We were pleased to sponsor the following presentations on BH design subject matter in March. Below are links to access both webinars via the Center for Health Design site, as well as a general description and our recap of key takeaways for each. Thanks for learning with us!


Design Strategies that Reduce Aggression in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Facilities

Webinar description: This webinar shares research and case studies that explore how design can be used as a tool complementing therapeutic protocols to reduce patient stress and aggression on pediatric mental health units. Rather than space acting as a control strategy, a more spatially and socially sensitive environment improves safety by elevating patient dignity. Utilizing a human-centered approach to design, strategies examine both tangible and intangible elements and their relationships to spatial and social density that strengthen staff-patient connections, facilitate innovations, and create a safer place for staff to deliver and children to receive mental health treatment. Access the webinar here.


Stance’s Key Takeaways: 

  • Design a space that shapes behaviors – not one that attempts to control them. In facilities that support children and adolescents undergoing mental/Behavioral Health treatment, the goal is to see the environment through a human-centered lens. In response, the goal is to create an inviting space that shapes behaviors, instead of an intimidating, and often less effective one that is more oriented around a behavioral-control strategy.
  • Everything in design evokes a response; aim for a space that is inviting, liberating, comforting, therapeutic, approachable, and dignified. Examples include:
    • Reception areas – inviting instead of confrontational
    • Circulation space – liberating instead of scary
    • Bedrooms – comforting instead of cold
    • (Open) nurse stations – approachable instead of alienating
  • Achieve these responses by considering the following aspects of the space:
    • Sight lines (open, nothing hidden)
    • Lighting (soft and/or natural)
    • Materials (comforting, not distracting)
    • Noise (create appropriate space for it in a way that does not amplify throughout the facility)
  • Understand sensory sensitivities and triggers. Depression, anxiety, and BH disorders tend to also present sensory issues for patients. With an understanding of what to avoid from a visual, auditory, touch, and smell standpoint, we can design a space that calms rather than agitates. Examples include:
    • Removing visual clutter, bright lighting, and distracting patterns and using calming colors with soothing materials
    • Eliminating repetitive sounds and “sonic clutter” and reducing “running” noise like toilet flushing sounds
    • Emphasizing materials and supplies that are comforting to the touch and soothe, including weighted blankets
    • Preventing distracting outdoor smells, including trash, perfumes, cleaning products, etc. from filling a space and instead encourage fresh air and aromatherapy
    • Create “cocooning areas” in educational or treatment zones where children can take a break when feeling overwhelmed
  • Prioritize natural light and spacial awareness/movement. The right light and use of space are two hugely impactful ways to design a space that feels overall less institutional. Regarding space: Studies show improved outcomes in patients who experience more physical activity during treatment. To encourage and enable this in your design, always consider balance/movement and spacial awareness of a room, so patients feel a sense of physical freedom vs. restriction. Access to other areas is also an important consideration here – access to landscaped, outdoor areas and patient rooms wrapped around an open space vs. along a narrow corridor are two design choices that can make a big impact. Regarding light, create spaces that offer patients as much access to natural daylight as possible throughout the facility, and always seek out opportunities for windows and soft lighting vs. overhead lights. 


Thank you to webinar presenters, Scott Holmes and Melanie Baumhover for sharing their insights with us!


The Future of the Behavioral Healthcare Care Team Station

Webinar description: As the treatment and model of care for inpatient behavioral health continuously evolves, so too should the physical environment in which care is delivered. With a heightened focus on patient dignity, and staff safety, along with improved technology, now is the time to re-think the future of the behavioral health care team station. Taking advantage of the collective knowledge and expertise in attendance, this webinar will offer interdisciplinary perspectives to evaluate current cutting edge design solutions, help attendees to develop solutions of their own, and inspire further research with the aspiration to transform the future of the care team station in inpatient behavioral health settings. Access the webinar here


Stance’s Key Takeaways: 

As patient-centered care continues to be a driving principle of modern healthcare design, Behavioral Health team care stations are one impactful way to continue this evolution. Overall, the goal here is to create a station that puts patients in the center, rather than the previous model that places a closed team station in the middle of a room – which has had the unfortunate effect of instilling an “us vs. them” dynamic. The new approach is designed to put patients at ease and on the same level as their care providers, physically and psychologically. 


How to put patients in the center of a care station zone?

  • Encourage interaction between care providers and patients by removing barriers to nurse stations and offering more seating for care providers 
  • Allow for therapeutic activities to take place in the care station zone by designing a layout which encourages free conversation and engagement
  • Maintain safety, keeping sight lines open


Areas that inspire a more collaborative, inviting space for patients and care providers to engage include:

  • The kitchen and kitchen table: Round seating arrangement, eye contact encouraged, appropriate spacing between people, all on same physical level, gathering together feels natural
  • Living room: Different options for seating/engaging are available, comfortable seating, option for free movement
  • Outdoor/garden spaces: Fresh air and nature naturally put both parties at ease, open space relieves stress and feeling of confinement


Thank you to webinar presenters, Brian Giebink and Stephanie Vito for sharing their insights with us!


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