Designing textiles with behavioral health in mind
5 ways to balance comfort and safety in care settings
By Medline Newsroom Staff | February 2, 2021
Fostering a safe and comforting environment is crucial in behavioral health care, where cases have more than doubled during the past decade.1 No matter where behavioral health patients are secured – in designated inpatient wings or freestanding clinics, presented to emergency departments, or admitted for co-occurring medical diagnoses – it is critical to protect them. Same goes for protecting other patients, family members and healthcare personnel.
Administrators and frontline staff can do this by utilizing products designed for the specific needs of these patients, products designed to balance comfort and safety. Here are five tips to get started:
1) See the whole space
Rather than focusing solely on a fixed category like furnishings, think of behavioral health products in the context of the complete environment. That will help you understand how each decision impacts both patient and staff safety. Select patient and room textiles, fixtures and furnishings with an eye for mitigating self-harm. Consider potential ligature points, and seek solutions that are tamper- and impact-resistant.2
2) Think in color
Color is playing a greater role in behavioral healthcare as a means of patient identification. Emerald green and royal purple are examples of two colors that healthcare systems are selecting to outfit their behavioral health patients so staff members can quickly notice if patients are in unauthorized areas. Additionally, color-coded tabs or necklines can help caregivers quickly sort and select apparel for both adult and pediatric behavioral health populations.
3) Add a touch of home
Thoughtful design can play a role in reducing environmental stressors.3 Replace scratchy textiles with soft, breathable fabrics. Swap hospital gowns for more comfortable and modest scrub- style patient garments. Introduce elements from nature, and provide effective light and sound control to enhance a calm, patient-centered environment.4
4) Leverage industry partnerships
Safety is the number one priority in the behavioral health space. Hospitals are seeking guidance in identifying solutions that protect patients, staff and visitors, and working with a trusted partner can help you address your individual challenges and pain points. Medline takes a holistic approach when navigating the complexities of behavioral healthcare standards, so that you can keep patient care first and foremost. Our tailored product options are designed with safety features to outfit your entire environment of care.
5) Find apparel that supports your strategy
“The demand for behavioral health services has increased exponentially over the past three years. With the effects of COVID-19 on mental health and wellbeing, this trend will likely remain on the rise,” says Stacy Baumstark, senior product manager for patient apparel. “After hearing this insight from a number of hospital partners across the country, Medline used that perspective to develop a new apparel line that addresses many of their pain points. Now, more than ever, it will be critical to have the right apparel and strategy in place to reduce risk of self-harm while ensuring that patients are comfortable.”
A version of this article first appeared in issue 11 of Threads.
1. “Behavioral Health Cases Doubled over a Decade.” Modern Healthcare. May 21, 2019. https://www. modernhealthcare.com/providers/behavioral-health-cases-doubled-over-decade.
2. “Applying Behavioral Health Design Strategies to the ED Environment.”
ASHE Health Facilities Management.
Oct. 4, 2018. https://www.hfmmagazine.com/articles/3486-behavioral- health-design-strategies.
3. “Towards a Design Theory for Reducing Aggression in Psychiatric Facilities.” ARCH 12: ARCHITECTURE / RESEARCH / CARE / HEALTH. Chalmers Institute of Technology, 2012. https://vbn.aau.dk/ws/portalfiles/ portal/71203129/FINAL_pdf_UlrichBogren_ Lundin_Toward_a_design_theory_for_ reducing_aggression_Oct_2_.pdf.