Most people will picture the interior of a healthcare facility as being white and sterile. This approach to interior design for healthcare facilities dates back a long time, and for many, it's seen as less of a "design choice" and more of a default setting. It's understandable why this decor is used – it's simple and suggests a level of cleanliness appropriate for healthcare, but is it still the best option?

How can colours change things?

Primarily, the white we are used to seeing in medical facilities is uniform and institutional. It's neither a welcoming nor a comforting environment and this is where the need for colour comes in. In recent years, an increasing number of professional healthcare designers have moved away from the clinical aspects of healthcare, shifting their focus to the promotion of wellness.

Integrating colours into your design can dramatically change a space. While colour theory is an inexact science, it cannot be argued that a well designed space can affect the way we feel. When a design utilises a well-selected colour palette, this can contribute to the well-being of the individual perceiving it. In this sense, colour can be utilised to help patients towards recovery. 

Studies have shown that adolescents prefer bright colours, while muted, natural colours have led to positive results in psychiatric facilites. Colour has also been employed as a visual cue in aged care settings to help patients with dementia navigate the facility. A comprehensive literature review on this topic can be found in the US-based Center For Health Design's report, "The application of colour in healthcare settings."

Gordon eye surgery waiting roomA soft palette used in the waiting area of Gordon Eye Surgery.

How do you select the right colours?

There is no sure-fire way to use colours to influence people into certain behaviours. In individual cases, some people may be more susceptible to the influence of colour as it relates to their mood, however there is no overarching rule to colour theory. A particular shade cannot be tied to a specific mood in a statistically significant number of people, but context-specific studies have shown that there is certainly an impact.

Therefore, as a matter of context, it depends not merely on the shape of the room and the location of the light source, but on the particular function of the space and on the people using it. In this sense, a pediatric hospital may require a far different colour scheme than an aged care facility. In order to use colours that contribute positively towards your patients' health and well-being, you need the right interior designer.

Sydney Skin & Vein waiting areaA darker scheme used in the waiting room of Sydney Skin & Vein Clinic

What approaches have been made towards this before?

Space For Health have employed smart colour design in a number of recent projects. You can check out the work we've done for Gordon Eye Surgery, Cowra Medical Centre and the Sydney Skin & Vein clinic on our portfolio page. But it's not just us. Industry leaders across the globe are implementing colourful solutions in healthcare design to wonderful effect.

To find out how we could use colour in your new healthcare facility, contact Space For Health today.