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Lighting design for patient rooms

Patient rooms are the hub of the patient experience in any health care facility. Functionality and aesthetics are equally important in these spaces to ensure patients are safe and comfortable. We spoke with Tom Lane, business development manager for ambient lighting for Eaton’s Lighting Division, and Ethan Garrett, product manager for Fail-Safe for Eaton’s Lighting Division, about the importance of lighting design in patient rooms.

What are the best practices for lighting design in patient rooms?

TL: Years ago, the consulting engineer would simply have picked a functional product for the patient room, but now it’s a new, in-depth experience. Facilities enlist interior designers, architects, lighting designers and specifiers to design these spaces. Modern patient rooms reflect the effort of an entire team of professionals.

EG: Modern facilities are opting for a clean and uniform approach with an emphasis on having a continuous look and feel throughout the facility. If a patient room uses a center basket light fixture for subtle indirect lighting, such as a Metalux Cruze product, you may not be able to carry that same product throughout the facility into spaces that require something a little more robust. A major benefit for these health care facilities is that they can look into other product lines, such as Fail-Safe, to find options that use the same lens profile. So now, in exam rooms, you can carry through that same center basket look from the patient rooms. And again, in behavioral health patient rooms, you still have the ability to create a cohesive center basket look. The goal is for the theme to continue throughout the facility.

TL: Over the last couple of years, there’s been a huge emphasis on behavioral health patient rooms. The patients, visitors and staff still want the same look and feel of the rest of the facility. While it may look the same, upon closer examination, you would find that instead of standard fasteners, it either doesn’t have any or has tamper-resistant fasteners. Instead of something made out of plastic, it might be made out of steel. You want to carry the look into as many areas of the facility as you can, so you accommodate where necessary.

EG: You also have to take into consideration what I call the “VIP rooms.” Donor suites and rooms for important persons or celebrities can vary drastically from the standard utilitarian patient rooms. These rooms usually have the patient bed area and a seating area for visitors. If it’s longer-term care or more attentive treatment, you have to think beyond just the patient bed lighting to achieve a more residential feel instead of the stark, sterile feel of a standard patient room. It’s meant to make patients feel at home.

How can connected lighting technology enhance lighting in these spaces?

TL: There are three main ways to light a patient room. The first two involve installing lighting fixtures in the ceiling — either directly over the patient or two fixtures along the left and right sides of the bed. The other option is to install lighting on the head wall in the form of an over-the-bed wall-mounted unit. The beauty of connected lighting is that the technologies can then be added directly into any of these fixtures. From dimmers to speakers and various sensors, the possibilities are constantly expanding.

EG: Connected lighting has countless applications in the health care setting. You can set up zones of light and lighting themes, and every fixture or area can have its own settings. It gives people options and — more important — a greater sense of control. Connected lighting makes it feel like home.

The hospital is essentially a microcosm of the lighting industry as a whole. You can have every known lighting product in a health care facility and still maintain a cohesive theme. It’s a very interesting opportunity to have everything in a single facility.