The evolution of healthcare in South Africa

by Ofentse Sefolo
The evolution of healthcare in South Africa

Founded in 1992, the Clinix Health Group has grown from strength to strength. With more than 20 years of providing healthcare services in previously disadvantaged communities, it now owns and manages seven modern hospitals and employs 1 200 people.

As part of our healthcare feature, Walls and Roofs (WR) spoke to Chad Brandon Paul, HOD: Infrastructure at Clinix Health Group, to understand more about the specifications for healthcare facilities, as well as how wall treatments are involved in this sector. His specialised opinion on design developments in this industry offers valuable insight.

W&R: What are the major design considerations for wall treatments within the clinical environment?
Chad: Hospitals are first and foremost sterile environments, and as such this should always be the departure point for any design or specifications in the healthcare space. Wall treatments are one of the crucial considerations, especially in areas such as sluices, wet rooms and theatres, where they need to be both robust and hygienic.

Typically, we prefer to use tiles for both wall and floor applications in service areas, as they allow for seamless surfaces that can withstand frequent, heavy-duty cleaning and sanitation. However, for patient wet rooms a softer application such as non-slip vinyl floors, complemented by warmer porcelain tiled walls, offers a more sensible solution for patient safety in these areas.

The most important consideration, given that hospitals often have high-sensitivity spaces, is that the wall protection itself now more than ever must deliver or contribute to the sterility of the overall environment.

W&R: What are the major design challenges and/or flaws with wall treatments in the clinical environment?
Chad: The most significant and ongoing challenge is the design and installation of hospital bumper rails and bed bumpers. Serving as cushioning elements to protect patients and walls from beds, trolleys and other equipment that require continuous movement, the most commonly used bumper rails in the South African healthcare environment are floor-vinyl-clad super wood mechanisms.

Locally we have developed a few quirky variations to the classic bumper rail by introducing a finishing in white oak and infilling the centre of the bumper rails with colour-coded trad vinyl. The colour coding is effectively used as path-finding mechanisms throughout our wards.

Companies like Polyflor have also introduced a prefabricated element that serves as a dual function of both bumper and handrail, which has been well received due to its robustness. However, it carries a significant price tag.

W&R: How is the treatment of wall textures changing within the clinical environment?
Chad: Designers are becoming more attuned to the fact that hospitals need to move away from being too clinical in appearance. Creating spaces that are aesthetically more sensitive to long-stay patients, children and visitors is becoming increasingly popular, where elements such as wall decals and murals are being used with great effect to make the environment more “friendly”.

Colour use

In our own hospitals, we have specified the use of a neutral palette combined with splashes of colour that is used to identify the signature and function of each ward’s typology.

Our paediatric and neonatal units have undergone a significant upgrade, with a monochromatic colour palette of soft greys and white, used in combination with pops of yellow in the accompanying artwork.

We have rolled out a project across our group to invest in the look and feel of our long-stay wards. Understanding that the patient environment needs to be continuously reconsidered and revitalised is key to the success of our core business.

The use of a softer, neutral colour palette, coupled with playful artwork, successfully brightens this children’s ward.

Chad concludes: “In the current environment it is essential for designers to realise that patients have options. We need to feed into their desire to pay premium rates for a facility that offers premium healthcare, combined with an aesthetical environment, that are conducive to patient care and recovery.”

Clinix Health Group
Tel: +27 11 429 1000
Email: info@clinix.co.za
Website: www.clinix.co.za/dr-sk-matseke-memorial-hospital

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