Healthcare facilities such as hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and clinics, have more stringent requirements than other public buildings.
The users of healthcare buildings include patients and visitors as well as the staff. Patients will be unwell. They could be recovering from an operation or suffering an infectious disease. Many will have impaired mobility and may be stressed and confused. Within hospitals there will be movement of patients on beds between departments and patients being transported in wheelchairs. Visitors to a hospital will also be under stress and in an unfamiliar environment.
In recognition of the unique requirements of healthcare buildings, the Department of Health has issued a series of Health Building Notes (HBNs). These detail additional guidance specific to healthcare facilities and where the HBN makes specific recommendations, these are to supersede the recommendations in BS 8300-2:2018 and Approved Document M.
The HBN 00 series of documents provide evidence-based best practice guidance. In this article we will review the guidance in HBN 00-04: Circulation and communication spaces. This HBN is concerned with the design of circulation (within department) and communication (between departments) spaces in healthcare buildings to create safe, accessible and fit for purpose spaces.
REVIEW OF GUIDANCE
HBN 00-04 states that handrails should be fitted in all main communication routes and departmental corridors. The corridors need to be wide enough so there is still sufficient space between the handrails on each side to accommodate the transfer of patients on beds.
Handrails are also to be fitted within lifts.
Handrail dimensions differ from Approved Document M:
- When round in section the recommended size is 40-45mm (this is more restrictive than the Approved Document M requirement of 32-50mm)
- Oval handrails with dimensions of 38mm x 50mm wide are acceptable (1mm narrower than Approved Document M 39mm x 50mm)
The top of the handrail should be placed 900-1000mm above floor level in corridors.
In children’s healthcare facilities, a second lower handrail should be provided at 600mm.
Handrails should be easily visible by contrasting visually with the walls they are attached to. For more information on visual contrast read our article here.
WALL & DOOR PROTECTION FOR HEALTHCARE
Corridors and main thoroughfares in hospitals are subject to a lot of potential wear and tear from trolleys, beds and wheelchairs. To protect the walls, crash rails or bumper bars can be specified. These can be combined with handrails or kept separate.
Crash rails are designed to absorb the shock of impact without damage as they compress slightly when impacted and bounce back.
In hospital wards it is also useful to specify bed protection bumpers to avoid damage to walls when moving beds around. Chair rails should be specified in designated waiting areas or waiting rooms where chairs may be bumped against walls.
Highly patterned and reflective wall coverings are not recommended as they can cause confusion for partially sighted people.
It is recommended that doors are fitted with kick plates mounted to a minimum height of 400mm to protect from damage from pushchairs and wheelchairs.
In addition, HBN00-04 states that corners, junctions and surfaces should be easily cleanable to help keep infection at bay. This aspect will be covered in more detail in the next article.
All materials used for wall protection in healthcare facilities should be those not prone to splintering.
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Our Acrovyn Wall Protection range is designed to meet the guidance requirements as specified in HBN 00-04 and associated documents including BS 8300-2:2018 and Approved Document M.
The extensive Acrovyn range includes impact resistant sheets, panels, door protection, corner guards, crash rails and handrails and is available in Standard Acrovyn or PVC-Free Acrovyn 4000.
Available in up to 27 different colours (with LRV ratings) and several different finishes, the range can meet visual contrast requirements without having to compromise on design and aesthetics. Click the links below to discover more about the Acrovyn Wall Protection Range.