Monday, February 22, 2010

On the ward and out of my mind- what were the designers thinking?

To read the rest of the series, read here, here, here, here and here

So, just a short one tonight.

In Ward B, the decor was not to awful. Lot's of soothing pastels, and watercolour paintings of old fashioned women sitting by a lake but as a whole not to terrible. It was reasonably new, and quite fresh and clean looking. I did have a few questions though...Why create a beautiful peaceful garden, complete with benches, flowers and a fountain, in an atrium in the middle of the that all of the patients could see through the glass wall running length-wise down each side...a spot that looks blissfully calm, and then refuse to allow those who need the bliss the most (ie the patients) access? Sure we had the smokers courtyard, and the gardens were not too bad out there, but seriously this atrium looked like a little paradise, but was strictly out of bounds, wtf? Second, if you are going to have glass windows running floor to ceiling on two sides of the tv room, in a city that is known for having some of the coldest weather in our state, don't ya think double glazing might have been a good idea...I'm just saying! And finally, if you are going to shut down a paediatric psych ward (shame on you!) and convert it for use as part of the adult psych ward, please take down the cartoon characters on the walls, and the signs reminding us to "Stop. Think. Revise". Its creepy and patronises the shit out of us.

BCH was not so great. For a start the nurses office was right down the end of the corridor, you know away from where all those annoying patients are...wouldn't want to actually have to interact with them!  Whilst the rooms had carpet the majority of the ward was linoleum, which made the whole setting very 'hospitalised' looking. The courtyard had but a strip of what had been grass, but was now mostly dirt, and one lonely, failing to thrive tree sapling. The rest was concrete. Grey concrete. Someone had tried to try and paint a 'soothing' mural on the wall...a sort of Tuscan garden, if you will. But rather than soothe, it just served to remind you there was no living things in your surrounding environment at all! Bathrooms, were tiny, and there was no shelf in the shower, so you had a choice of putting your soap etc either on the floor, or closing the lid on the toilet which was right next to it, and putting your stuff on top of took me a while to decide definitavely which was more unhygienic. At Ward B, my bedroom window looked out on a garden, at BCH it looked out on a shipping container. The whole air of BCH, was just very fusty, old and worn. The whole building just felt like it was giving a big sigh of fatigue. And I don't think it was built that long ago.....Oh and lets not forget the bright orange bedspreads....purty!

Of course I have mentioned before, the eyesore that is the Public Mental Health building, I attend as an outpatient. A giant, purple-grey, amorpheous sludge of depression. What were they thinking?

Now skip to the websites my mother has been looking at of private psych hospitals in the area. Just in case I need to be admitted again. Aside from the seemingly superior therapeutic interventions and alternative therapies, these places also look like they would be more soothing to the soul to be in. Each room looks like a moderately priced hotel room. The gardens are landscaped and gorgeous. One I'm recalling in particular had access to bushwalks and a swimming pool.

Obviously the user pays system is always going to have more money for cosmetics than the Public system. But you really do wonder, these designers who create the buildings for government departments and get paid quite a bit of money, the staff who are responisble for the general interiors (posters, murals etc)...what are they thinking? Do they think if they just make the environment as unpleasant and depressing as possible, we'll leave sooner?

1 comment:

  1. I hear you! I remember my old psych ward had bright purple carpet because the old governmnent house was getting rid of it in the 70s when that psych unit was built. It now in a new building that is really nice. Though I know what you mean about hospitals and those gardens or fountain areas. One of the main hospitals in brisbane has an inclosed fountain area that you can walk past (this is in the main hospital) but can't get to.

    P.S. do these word matching things ever crack you up, the one I just got was swines, which for some reason I find quite funny right now :-P