The Future of Healthcare Design

Who is packing a wallop to improve healthcare design? There are many organizations—non-profits, trade associations, and standards-writing entities—that have been working on updates that will improve healthcare design solutions. The goal is to impact health and wellness for residents, patients, staff, and families, influencing design decisions for improved outcomes.

Aging Eyes and Lighting

One exciting development that has been under way for several years is the long-awaited update to the Illuminating Engineers Society (IES) Standard: ANSI/IES RP-28 Lighting and the Visual Environment for Senior Living. With so many changes happening in lighting technology, this updated standard is anticipated to be completed for publication soon. The updated table that includes foot-candle recommendations for designers to utilize will also be referenced in the proposed 2018 “Guidelines for Design and Construction of Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities,” published by the Facility Guidelines Institute. Often, healthcare designers do not realize that utilizing and referencing these requirements will not only improve long-term care settings, but other healthcare spaces as well.

Acoustics and Outcomes

Because hospital acoustic guidelines are not necessarily applicable to long-term care settings, a task force has been established by The Mayer-Rothschild Foundation in cooperation with the Facility Guidelines Institute to evaluate specific recommendations for these spaces. This task force is led by David Sykes of Remington Partners, Inc. and Kurt Rockstroh of Steffian Bradley Architects. Mandy Kachur from Soundscape Engineering, LLC has participated in the research and acts as the liaison between the work of the task force and the Health Guidelines Revision Committee (HGRC) of the Facility Guidelines Institute. The proposals for “Guidelines” submitted by Kachur were based upon initial findings of their research at Brooksby Village, an Erickson Retirement Community located outside of Boston. The groundbreaking work that is being completed will impact not only the 2018 cycle of the Residential Guidelines, but also the 2022 cycle.

Sustainable product Certifications

For sustainable materials, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is actively looking at alternative compliance paths for both pilot and standing credits within LEED v4. This is exciting news, as it demonstrates that all of the work completed by manufacturers on the NSF Sustainability Assessment Standards for certification of interior products and materials are being considered as part of the compliance to LEED v4 credits. As examples, this would include NSF/ANSI Sustainability Assessments for resilient flooring (NSF/ANSI 332), carpet (NSF/ANSI 140), and wallcovering (NSF/ANSI 342). The proactive trade associations involved in the development of these sustainable certifications include the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI), the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), and the Wallcoverings Association (WA)—all leaders in working toward sustainable solutions. Green Globes for New Construction (NC) includes credits that address multiple-attribute certifications, as well as addressing material and resources from a life cycle perspective in the GBI ANSI revision process currently underway.


The opportunities for change come through collaboration—identifying gaps that have not been filled and crossing over boundaries to share commonalities. Locating where the needs exist and expanding to encompass the changes that are required are the most difficult in healthcare settings. The best source of information from a programming perspective are the caregivers and hands-on service providers. Frontline staff are the people who participate with residents and patients on a regular basis, and provide insights that C-Suite and administration do not observe.

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