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Healthcare lighting design tips to benefit patients and clinical staff

Lighting allows us to see and perform everyday activities, but it also plays a vital role in the psychological and physiological health of all humans.

Artificial and natural light impact human health and performance via four main mechanisms (Health Design):

Because lighting plays such an important role in human health, it should also play a major part in facility design for hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Healthcare lighting design for the patient experience

The ongoing evolution of LED technology has given healthcare lighting designers new options for color temperature and energy-efficient design. Designing lighting systems that easily change color from day to night was inconceivable until the advent of advanced LEDs.

Take a look at lighting design considerations for four patient spaces (interiors+sources): 

  1. Patient corridors: In patient corridors, lighting systems should include controls for daytime/nighttime awareness. Lighting zones should be tied to the overall lighting-control system, saving energy and aiding in a better patient sleeping environment.  
  2. Patient rooms: Lighting for patient rooms creates a design challenge, because lighting requirements vary for each patient situation. This makes flexibility key. Create multiple lighting zones with simple switches and controls.  
  3. Cancer centers: Caregivers of patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer need control over the environment to create comfort, and this includes lighting. Lighting controls should be easy to use and allow users to vary the lighting levels according to time of day, the patient’s care needs and other variables.
  4. Children’s hospitals: In a children’s hospital, lighting design can help create a sense of playfulness and whimsy and brighten children and families’ day. Examples include LED lighting projections in fun shapes and LED color-changing installations triggered by movement.

Healthcare lighting design for clinical staff

Not only is lighting crucial for the patient experience, it can also be critical to clinical staff performance and comfort. Proper and effective healthcare lighting design will allow clinical employees to make critical and tactful choices in a rapidly changing environment. Here are two spaces to consider in hospitals and other clinical spaces (interiors+sources):

  1. Critical care areas: Intensive care units, emergency departments and post-operative recovery rooms require more complex lighting systems than some areas. Multiple levels of lighting are required for general lighting and exam lighting, but in these areas, the staff controls the lighting.
  2. Nurses’ stations: Lighting systems used at nurses’ stations must be flexible to ensure staff have sufficient illumination to perform their work around the clock. For example, several studies have demonstrated that exposure to intermittent bright light during the course of the night helps staff members adjust to the night shift and remain alert. 

Exposure to adequate lighting supports the healing process for patients by reducing depression, alleviating pain and supporting healthy circadian rhythms while also improving clinical staff performance. It’s clear that lighting is critical to human functioning, and a strong healthcare lighting design can be extremely beneficial to patients as well as staff in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.