There is no way to get around it. Baby boomers are getting….older. In fact, research from the Pew Research Center found that boomers make up 26 percent of the U.S. population and every day 10,000 of them turns 65. Pew also found that “just 13% of Americans are ages 65 and older,” but by 2030 “when all members of the Baby Boom generation have reached that age, fully 18% of the nation will be at least that age.
The fact that so many people are retiring at such a fast pace will inevitably have far-reaching ramifications that will impact the job market, social security, the economy, to name just a few areas that will transformed.
But it’s healthcare that will be the focus of a series of blogs posts that will appear on the Healthcare Design Magazine website over the next several weeks. In particular, the news source will look at how healthcare facility design and designers will respond to the needs of boomers as they quickly enter “into the retirement and Medicaid phases of their lives” and rely more heavily on healthcare services than they did decades earlier.
According to the blog, “There’s been a lot of publicity around this demographic, but we haven’t identified and studied the patient experience design criteria that baby boomer patients will require and demand. The goal of these subsequent blogs is to explore, discuss, and define this new patient population.”
The blog also says that the change in hospital design is already happening at a great pace and that we “have all heard the staggering statistics about this generation and, make no mistake about it, this will result in an evolutionary change in the healthcare industry.”
It can be argued that healthcare facilities can be among the most complex facilities to design due to the wide range of specifications that have to be considered in order to treat the healthcare needs of diverse populations. This is especially true in regard to environments such as behavioral healthcare facilities which require design and furniture elements that are quite different than general healthcare facilities in many ways.
In fact, according to the Norix Furniture white paper titled Top Five Furniture Considerations for Patient Safety in Behavioral Healthcare Facilities, “Elements that are considered appropriate in a general healthcare setting, or for particular patient populations, may not only be unnecessary in a behavioral healthcare (BHC) unit, they may be potentially hazardous in a psychiatric population. This is particularly true for psychiatric units located within a general healthcare facility.”
And behavioral healthcare facilities are just one example of specialized healthcare environments. Add to the mix rural health clinics, hospice care, ambulatory surgical centers, emergency rooms and rehabilitation agencies and you have quite the task in predicting just how healthcare design will change.
So it will be interesting to see how Healthcare Design Magazine specifically tackles and represents such a complex issue in a series of blog posts. And kudos to them for stepping up to the plate and taking a swing at an issue that will have a long-lasting influence on generations of Americans to come.
Additional resources from Norix Furniture
White Paper – Planning and Design of Behavioral Healthcare Facilities
White Paper – Top 5 Furniture Considerations for Patient Safety in Behavioral Healthcare Settings
Project Case Study – Stockton Health Care Facility
Project Case Study – Mercy Hospital, Miami FL
Project Case Study – Alta Pointe EastPointe Hospital
Dustin Coleman is a brand journalist for Norix Furniture and a contributor to the Safe Environments blog.