Research shows that the environmental design of healthcare facilities has a direct effect on the wellbeing of patients and their families. Well-designed environments can improve health outcomes, while poorly designed environments can heighten patient anxiety and stress and negatively influence the healthcare experience. Consequently, there has been a renewed approach to the design of healthcare environments and furnishings to positively effect health and healing. Across the world, healthcare environments have become warmer and more welcoming with architecture that embraces views and natural light, and terraces and courtyards that offer a connection to nature and the outdoors. Timber features, coloured upholstery and contemporary artworks add colour and warmth; plants add a sense of life and help to improve indoor air quality; and seating, such as the Andreu World Duos chair (pictured above) and ENEA Oh! chair (pictured below), is now just as likely to be seen in a hospital or waiting room as an office or restaurant. These warmer and more inviting pieces are a stark, and very welcome, contrast to the clinical, sterile-looking furniture of yesteryear. Not only are designers specifying commercial or residential-style furniture for healthcare facilities, but furniture designers and manufacturers are responding with ergonomic seating designed for a diversity of users, including medical staff, elderly, patients’ families and people who are heavily overweight. These seating collections have the potential to reduce the spread of health-care associated infections, decrease the risk of patient falls, improve the efficiency of cleaning and maintenance, and contribute to comfortable and visually appealing environments that attract more patients. KE-ZU supplied the Sancal Hera chair for the redeveloped Royal North Shore Hospital, designed by BVN, for its comfortable forms and good looks. The robust and contemporary armchair has a seat height, upright backrest and arm height that are ergonomic for patient comfort. There is also flexibility with upholstery options for Hera as it is upholstered locally, providing greater versatility in achieving the right design aesthetic. The Hera chair, which is named for the goddess of women, marriage, family, and childbirth, is also ideal for nursing mothers and is KE-ZU’s most popular chair for parents’ rooms. The seat pad (attached with Velcro) can be removed, and the cover can be easily unzipped if it needs to be cleaned or replaced. The back is a relaxed yet upright position for breastfeeding, and the armrests are at a comfortable distance when holding a baby’s head. In addition to Royal North Shore Hospital, Hera is also included in retail, educational and aviation projects such as Macquarie Shopping Centre, Sydney Airport, Ravenswood School for Girls and David Jones to name a few. KE-ZU also supplied a range of furniture for Westmead Hospital, designed by HDR Rice Daubney and Team 2 Architects. Specified for their functional and versatile nature, the selected products were also budget friendly and many are GECA certified and AFRDI tested. This includes axona AICHI’s sustainable Tipo Chair that has been rigorously assessed by Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) to be deemed safe for both the environment and people’s health. It also includes ENEA’s Lottus chair, rated to AFRDI L6 (suitable for “extremely heavy conditions”) and the Lottus four-legged chair, load rated to 135 kilograms. The Lottus collection is also designed to prevent the transmission of healthcare-associated infections spread through contact, contributing to a more hygienic environment and healthier people. The addition of the chemical agent Vibatan PP/M Bacteriostatic 02518 to the polypropylene shell enables Lottus chairs to actually inhibit the reproduction of bacteria. Seating in healthcare environments needs to account for people of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Two out of three Australian adults are considered overweight and that number is expected to increase to three out of four within the next five years. And as the population grows heavier, it requires wider and sturdier chairs. This need to accommodate a larger population is increasingly vital in healthcare environments. Cache by Source International is a range of bariatric chairs specifically designed for a larger population, with three seat widths up to 660 millimetres, and are able to endure a static load up to 407 kilograms.  Proyec also offers seating solutions for healthcare environments with furniture developed to meet the practical needs of elderly patients. The Boomerang collection includes stationery and transfer chairs developed after extensive ergonomic studies of elderly users. They are designed to promote ease of movement for sitting and getting up; the back and seat support correct posture; and the armrests are positioned to allow side access. Providing ergonomic, functional and contemporary furniture has now become standard in the healthcare industry, as designers and specifiers look beyond past conventions to embrace a patient-centred approach for health and wellbeing. For more information about Healthcare furniture, drop by the KE-ZU showroom at Alexandria or view the products online here.