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Maternal-Child Healthcare Design

By Lynne Wilson Orr, Principal, Parkin Architects Limited

A Women’s Clinic is a Women’s Clinic is a Women’s Clinic. Right? Wrong.

Women are demanding facilities that recognize their needs – particularly women who have delayed motherhood into their thirties and forties.

Designing Facilities to Meet Maternal-Child Healthcare Needs

With the recent announcements from Apple and Facebook announcing they will be funding employees’ IVF procedures as an employee recruitment and retention initiative, more career women will demand this coverage from their employers and the number of procedures will increase dramatically. In Quebec, the provincial government funding of IVF procedures resulted in a tripling of the number of women undergoing these procedures in the first year alone. Ontario is poised to begin funding of these procedures in 2015.

So what does this mean for architects and designers who are tasked with the challenge of designing these facilities? It means we need to do specific research on the demographics of the area where the clinic will be located, discussing with the obstetricians who their client population is and what women’s  needs are. This can vary from one locale to another. But one thing remains the same. Women are demanding better access to these facilities and shopping around for clinicians and facilities that meet their needs.

Supporting Careers through Architecture and Design

A career professional who has to spend several hours in a high risk obstetrics clinic waiting for an ultrasound appointment and follow up with her doctor cannot afford to be out of touch with her professional responsibilities for the duration. Wi-Fi in waiting rooms, seating that is designed to allow clients and their partners the ability to use a laptop without contortion, privacy to make sensitive work-related phone calls while waiting and a calming and supportive environment are essential elements of this new reality. Environments that are designed to appeal to the client’s aesthetic sensibility and make her feel positive about what she is embarking upon, are key to the success of the architecture and design. Flattering lighting goes a long way to making us feel positive about ourselves and our activities.

Designing for Labour and Delivery

This extends into the birthing process following successful IVF and other fertility practices. The Baby Boomers were responsible for pushing healthcare facilities to create the single room model of care for delivery where women labour, deliver and recover in one room.  The new generation wants more. When being admitted in labour, they want privacy and separate admission rooms rather than the traditional open cubicles. They want to feel welcomed and respected, as well as confident that their birth plan wishes will be respected. Fireplaces in waiting rooms, early-labour Lounges with Wi-Fi, cappuccino makers, and birthing rooms with generous hydrotherapy tubs, heated towel bars and hairdryers are just some of the design elements that we have incorporated into recent Women’s Health projects.

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