Skip main navigation

Waiting Areas and Public Facilities within the Circulation Space

In this article, we examine various open and welcoming public areas that create a more social and less clinical environment.
Waiting area at Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Waterside, County Derry, Ireland
Photo Design Features
  • Colour contrast to lower section of counter and adjacent floor area help to locate and identify the reception area.
  • Waiting area with less formal seating and views to outside.

Waiting and seating areas
As described earlier, the main circulation area and associated public spaces provide important meeting, social, and activity areas within the hospital. In this regard waiting and seating areas should be designed as an integral part of the hospital’s internal public realm.

Waiting or seating areas should be in an obvious and visible location within the circulation area, with good visual access to public toilets, the relevant reception desk and other relevant adjacent facilities such as the café or shop. The spatial configuration of these areas should allow a person to leave their seat and go to the toilet or nearby shop without losing their way, or losing sight of the person they are with.

These areas should be spacious and welcoming and use materials, finishes, furniture, planting, and artwork to create a more human-scale and less clinical environment. The waiting areas should be adjacent to outdoor space to provide views, a positive distraction, contact with nature, and the admission of natural light.

The seating layout within the waiting area should represent a more informal arrangement with space for wheelchairs and buggies, and seating of varying heights to suit a range of needs.

Cafes, shops and other facilities within the main circulation area
Areas such as cafes and shops are important for ADL purposes, and as a destination where families and friends can bring a patient. In addition, they also act as good gathering and meeting points for social interaction. As such, these areas must be clearly visible upon entry, and should be accessible, understandable and easy to use. If it is an enclosed or separate space, the entrance should be easily located and identifiable, along with being clearly highlighted and clearly differentiated from adjacent non-public spaces through the use of colour or other visual cues. Any access doors should be accessible, easily operated and understood.

UD Dementia Friendly Design Guidance

  • Provide ample space, not only in terms of creating a calm environment, but also in terms of providing space for accompanying persons who may assist the person with dementia.
  • Provision of ample and comfortable seating in the waiting area.
  • Use of consistent flooring and a furniture that contrasts with the floor.
  • Sound absorption, plentiful light, good signage, and a pleasant view are also helpful.
  • Waiting areas should have visual access to nature, as nature scenes are therapeutic
This article is from the free online

Dementia Inclusive Hospitals from a Universal Design Approach

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education