Multisensory Work Environments Through the Lens of Healthcare Professionals

Presenter: Sophia Sabaten

Research Category: Humanities and Arts
College: College of Arts Media & Design
Major(s): Architecture
Graduation Date: 2021

In many cases, work environments are not suitable for the necessary tasks that we need to achieve. High intensity settings, like healthcare facilities, do not provide the optimal setting for workers to perform efficiently due to stressful sensory environments. As evidence-based researches report, sound overload from machines lead to alarm fatigue and worker burnout which lowers productivity levels of healthcare providers. Many of today’s healthcare designs concentrate on the health and comfort of patients, but less on the efficiency and wellbeing of the staff. While focusing on patient needs is important, directing attention to the employee spectrum would become of greater value. Especially in today’s health conditions of COVID-19, healthcare workers urgently need environments that help them perform well to achieve their intended duties. By applying multisensory design in work environments, staff would be better equipped psychologically and physiologically, thus resulting in better patient outcomes. This project seeks to improve the design of break spaces by creating a standard for how the break environment should be for healthcare staff. Research methods like literature review, discourse and photovoice analysis were imperative to understand the current conditions of break spaces and the need for a change. To further gain insight of design outcomes, surveys and case studies of hospital plans and patient waiting rooms were completed. This project aims to design a breakroom prototype, along with updating hospital guidelines that integrate multisensory elements to further support healthcare workers. Good work begins with a good break.