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Hospital location and ease of access for hospital users

In this article, we'll look at how ease-of-access is crucial to hospitals providing various age-related services.
LUAS rail station, Tallght, Dublin, Ireland

Photo Design Features

  • Light rail stop directly adjacent to hospital provides an accessible and easily used form of public transport to the hospital for all people.
  • The Luas public transport stop provides a clear first destination point as part of a person’s overall journey to the hospital.

Photo Design Features

  • Ensure there is pedestrian access point close to the public transport stop with an accessible pedestrian route to the main entrance of the hospital.

Location and Siting of Buildings

Design Considerations and Awareness
The location of any public facility such as a hospital influences the feasibility and availability of alternative modes of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport. Considering the various age-related health services a hospital provides, i.e. in addition to attending an emergency department or admission as an inpatient, many general hospitals provide geriatric day services facilities and dedicated age-related outpatient clinics, the hospital often becomes one of the public facilities frequented by older people in the community.

Many older people may be unable to drive for various reasons, and while people with early dementia may be safe drivers, as the condition progresses, the ability to safely drive a vehicle is eventually lost. Furthermore, there is a high probability that some patients and visitors will not have access to a car, and will depend on others to drive them, use public transport, or arrive on foot. If the hospital is in a location that forms part of an accessible neighbourhood then it will contribute to an age friendly and dementia friendly community.

Given the number of older people using the hospital on a regular basis, it is vital that the hospital is easily accessed for older people and those living with dementia to independently and safely use public health services as an inpatient, outpatient, day hospital user, visitor, or a hospital volunteer. A centrally located hospital will facilitate easier access for the patient, their family and carers. Locating a new hospital near the public thoroughfare also reduces travel distances to the community and enhances passive security to associated access routes.

Consideration should be given to the siting of buildings (for example, Day Services, Emergency Department) to allow them to be easily accessible, visible and identifiable for older persons or persons with dementia and their accompanying persons.

Careful site planning and building orientation should be used to maximise the positive effects natural light and views to nature in the hospital setting and avoid a scenario where adjacent buildings block views or light.

Some people living with dementia may fear getting lost and feel insecure or anxious when out in public places. This may be compounded by concerns for personal safety, or fear of crime and therefore it is important to locate and site a hospital where occupants will feel secure while walking, cycling, and/or driving to or from the hospital campus, and using facilities such as the carpark, particularly at night.

UD Dementia Friendly Design Guidance

  • Where possible choose a hospital location close to local services, public transport and local amenity spaces.
  • Whether the hospital is in a new development, or along a public road or street, ensure that the site minimises travel distances to nearby facilities and amenity spaces.
  • Ensure that the siting of the hospital maximises opportunities for informal social interaction and passive security while at the same time creating a calm environment.
  • Avoid locating hospitals close to sources of excessive noise such as train lines or motorways as acoustic disturbance can be a major concern for some people with dementia.
  • Finally, in choosing a general location or a specific site within a location it is useful to discuss this with all relevant stakeholders and to involve the person with dementia at all stages. The more familiar or recognisable the setting the better it will be for the person living with dementia.
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Dementia Inclusive Hospitals from a Universal Design Approach

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