n A comprehensive approach to designing for recruitment and retention of staff in hospitals has lessons for the commercial construction industry. Jim Miara reports.
If all goes to plan, when the Royal Children's Hospital opens in Me lbourne In 2011 the facility's multiple stakeholders will be as pleased as punch. Patients and their families will note the easy flow through admission and
discharge and the sensitivity to environmental factors such as privacy, light and views that aid the healing pmcess. The community w;a ooas-t of a S 1 bmiOn hOSPital consvuction
P<O)ect. 011e of the largest in Avstralian history. that blends seamleSSiy into its parkland setting and l)<oduces a cartlon footpnnt lhat is 40 percent smane< than a typiCal hOspital ol the past. Victorians wit take pride in knowing lhey have a state·Of· lhe-M hOspital prollicing U1e children of U1e state with the best care the W()f1d haS to offer. But the design is aJso extraordinarily sensitive to the needs of another constituency- the medical staff -whose satisfaction with and commitment to 111e hOspiital are essootial to U1e delive<y ol high·QUality care. And among the madieal per'S0f111el, particulat attention was given to the needs.l:x>th professional and personal, of U1e nursing staff whOsa ranks have been shnnking in Avstralia and arovnd lhe wo~d .
·Nurse retention was of central importance.~ said KriSten 'M1ittle, desigl director at the Melboorne offioe of Bates SmM. an af'Cflitecture firm that Is a member of the public private pMnership coosortium develOping the RCH. "We su.veyed the ~Using staff and asked wllat would help imP<OII<! lheir conditions. Their intetests were embedded i'l the brief.•
Stress caused by too mUCh responsibility and not enough power, erratic work schedUles that strail home lite and outdated equipment and facilities are the causes of nurse dissatisfaction most often cited. ~Interest in retention strategies has increased, but it requires a detailed unde<standing of what motivates IUsas,• said CIYist()f)her Raley, communications director for Harvard tvtedicallnternational (HMQ. a hOspital planning and management firm lhat is wOO<ing closely with the SP<ingfleld l.and Cot-POtatiOn 011 the development of Springfield Heall/1 City in Queensland. "Several trends have made retention more impooant. While demand for nurses is growing. more nurses are retiring or leaving the professi011 than are entering tt. At the same time. U1e pop<AatiOn is ageing. wf1ich means more patients with more severe problems.· Roya l Children's Hospital
What do nurses want?
Nursas assodations have consistently appealed lor higher wages, but at the same time U1ey acklloYAedge mat remuneration is orty a pM, end perhaPs not even U1e largest part, of the P<oblom.
"We have a hOlistic view of design. It's all aboot saying lhe envirooment affects our wellbeing." says Kristen Whittle of Sates Smart. "Mind and body are connected and 011 goal is to use the environtnent to affect heall/1."