Furnishing a hospital waiting room requires attention to detail and an understanding of patients’ needs, both physically and mentally. In addition to addressing these concerns, select furniture that fits with the aesthetics of the space. From the planning stages to the furniture acquisition, follow some practical steps for success.
One of the first steps is to take measurements of the area when choosing furniture for hospital waiting room spaces. Measure the total area of the waiting room and the specific space that will be allocated to the new furniture. Write down measurements of the current furniture as well, which will allow you to assess if the new pieces should be larger or smaller. Don’t forget about measuring the doorway. Typically, hospitals have larger, double-door entrances, so furniture of varying sizes should be able to fit through the available space.
Collaborate on Style
Determining the style of a waiting room is important. The space should be serious but not sullen. A team meeting can help to determine the exact atmosphere to create with the new furniture. During these discussions, talk about whether the current decor, carpeting, paint colors, and other elements will stay in place. Renovating the entire room offers more freedom with the furniture. If these additional features are to remain, the furniture must match in terms of color and theme.
Don’t Skimp on the Budget
While you don’t want to spend excessive money on furniture for the waiting room, you do want to select quality pieces. Cheap furniture can break or require repairs pretty quickly. Even if the hospital is saving money on the purchase of the furniture, the facility owners could end up having to spend additional funds on repairing or replacing the pieces. Quality furniture typically lasts for longer, so making an investment in these items is smart.
Opt for Modular Options
When patients are waiting in the hospital, they often need to rearrange the furniture. For example, a large family may come into the waiting room and reasonably want to sit together. Modular furniture provides the patients and the staff members with the ability to rearrange the pieces as needed. Permanently fixed chairs and tables, for example, are not a smart and accommodating option for a hospital waiting room.
Know Your Audience
The furniture to purchase also depends upon the patients who frequent the waiting room. For example, a waiting room at a children’s hospital should have bright, inviting colors that make the kids feel safe and comfortable. A space occupied by adult patients need not be cheery, but vibrant primary colors would not necessarily be appropriate either.
Purchase Plenty of Seating
Chairs are the main staple of furniture for a hospital waiting room. Whether individuals are waiting to see a doctor about their own injuries or are hoping to receive news about their loved ones soon, they want to sit down. While other pieces of furniture can certainly enhance the room, getting enough chairs should be the top priority. Reviewing records to see how many patients are typically in the waiting room at the same time is helpful in determining the number of chairs to order. Of course, this number can vary based on day of the week and time, but you can put together an estimate.
Factor in Current Capacity
In recent years, many individuals have chosen telehealth when possible. As a result, while your hospital may still be seeing the same total number of patients, some individuals are not actually coming into the physical space. This reduced traffic in the waiting room can allow you to explore additional furniture options. In other words, pieces of furniture that would not have fit in the past can work out well now. You may also be able to reduce the number of chairs and tables in the space.
Prioritizing accessibility is crucial when purchasing furniture for the waiting room. Everyone needs to be able to sit down. Some of the chairs will need to be accessible to individuals in wheelchairs. Keep in mind that some patients will not be able to fit in armchairs. Get an assortment of both arm-less and armchairs to accommodate all patients. Do not purchase chairs that are too low to the ground. Standing up could be a struggle for elderly patients or individuals with injuries or disabilities. Some of the chairs should also be wide enough to fit parents who are sitting with their small children.
Choose High Weight Limits
Virtually all chairs come with weight limits. Flimsy chairs could mean that heavier guests are uncomfortable or entirely unable to sit down. Also, a guest who is over the weight limit for a certain chair could end up sitting down, falling, and being injured, which may result in a lawsuit against the hospital. Be aware of weight limits when choosing chairs, and select the highest weight limit that is available. If the company sells furniture that cannot accommodate your patients, look for a different seller that is friendlier to people of varying weights.
Don’t Forget the Tables
The waiting room should also have at least a few tables available for patients to place their bags and for kids to play with toys. Many waiting rooms also provide a spread of magazines for patients to page through as they wait to meet with the doctor. Tables should not typically take up the majority of the space, though. Depending upon the size of the waiting room, a few side tables and one larger table in the middle can be appropriate.
Evaluate Dining Options
A hospital waiting room is not typically going to have the space for a full sit-down meal. However, parents with children may want a spot for their kids to eat a snack. Guests who are sitting in the waiting room all night to hear news about loved ones will want to refresh with a cup of coffee or light cuisine. While dining tables and chairs can take up a lot of space in the waiting room, evaluate the need for such a setup. In other words, if there’s space for a small dining set and patients are typically in the waiting room for a long while, this investment can be a smart one to increase patient and visitor satisfaction.
Buy Furniture for Kids
If your hospital sees many children on a regular basis, or if kids tend to accompany their parents to visits, make sure that some child-sized furniture is on the shopping list. Little tables and chairs help children to feel less intimidated at the hospital. You can put some toys out on the tables for children to play with while they wait. Make sure those toys are easy to clean quickly and are sanitized on a regular basis to keep everyone safe.
Focus on Details
When it comes to buying furniture for a hospital waiting room, you’re likely to first turn your attention to tables and chairs. Keep in mind that other pieces of furniture are helpful in this space as well. For example, purchasing a coat rack or two is appropriate, especially when the hospital is located in a colder environment. You may also need to buy a small media center or a television stand.
Position the Chairs
Many hospital waiting rooms have a couple of televisions that patients and guests can watch. Position the chairs so they are facing the televisions. Optimizing the number of visitors who can watch the television during the waiting period is a way to make individuals feel more comfortable, especially if they have to wait for several hours to hear about a loved one.
Choose Easy-to-Clean Options
Wiping down hospital furniture is a must to maintain sanitary conditions, especially since many of the patients in the waiting room are ill. Select chairs that are manufactured using materials that are easy to clean. Fabric chairs are more challenging to clean than plastic chairs, though the latter option is less comfortable. Find a balance between the two. Choose pieces of furniture that allow patients to relax but that are also easy to wipe down and thoroughly clean.
Check Shipping Times
Longer shipping times have become the norm in some fields, and the furniture industry has seen delays too. Before filling up a virtual shopping cart with products, check to see what the company’s estimated shipping times are. You could call to speak to a representative to ask for a specific timeline. Remember that shipping times are typically estimates and not guaranteed dates. Further delays could occur. If there’s some flexibility with the project, waiting longer for shipping is an option. When a hard deadline is in place, you may need to work with a company that has the products in stock and ready to ship.
Buying new furniture for the hospital’s waiting room is a project that allows you to express some creativity. However, you also have to be aware of practical concerns. Ultimately, the furniture needs to suit patients with all different needs, and you want to select quality pieces that will last for several years.