Page 10 — Health Care & Senior Housing Quarterly — April 2021 HEALTH CARE — DESIGN E mpathy is part of my job as a health care architect. Every architect, of course, strives to design spaces that are sensi- tive to the needs and desires of users. However, health care design requires special consider- ation. The users of health care facil- ities navigate a tremendous range of emotional experiences, from the joys of new life to the trauma of death. Hospices, which focus on the latter experience, require the utmost sensitivity from an archi- tect’s perspective. Death happens in these facilities every day. Outside of religious architecture, death and mortality aren’t common architectural design considerations. The very function of hospices, though, demands that architects pay attention to death. Assuming an average stay of three days, over 1,000 people will die in the typi- cal 12-bed hospice every year. In designing a space sensitive to the emotional experiences of users, an architect faces a daunting gauntlet of questions: How do you design a facility where death is so central to the experience? A facility that hon- ors each patient’s death in a special and individual manner? A facility that provides appropriate spaces for mourning? A facility that enables its staff to grapple with the immense psychic weight of losing patients daily? Recently, our team had the oppor- tunity to work with Pathways Hospice in Fort Collins to design a new inpatient care center and took the project as an opportunity to answer those questions through our design pro- cess. We focused on mapping the experience of vari- ous users, creating “nodes” to maxi- mize the design sensitivity of the hospice environ- ment. As part of our initial planning process, our team explored the expe- rience of typical building users. We divided users into three categories: patients, family and friends of patients, and staff members. Each user group would experience the facility in vastly dif- ferent ways. For the patient, the hospice is the last building they will be in. For family and friends, the hospice is a place of dizzying emotions – grief, mourning and celebration of their loved one’s life. For staff, the hospice is a workplace where death is an unavoidable part of the typical workday. Typically, planners and designers conduct use experience mapping exercises to determine the most efficient flow or most engaging route through a space. In addi- tion to these considerations, we explored something else: how the space could allow building users to manage and express their emo- tions. Taking these three user groups, we mapped out the typical path for each user type through the building, “storyboarding” each user’s experience out into a sequence of key “nodes” within the facility and considering how each node would impact users’ emotional journey. For the patient, the nodes were the facility’s entry canopy, the main hallway, the hallway of the patient wing and the patient room. We examined this sequence closely as we developed the building plan. Observing that most patients are brought through the facility on a gurney, we paid special attention in designing the ceilings. We elimi- nated all down-lighting in favor of soft up-lighting and daylighting. We scrutinized any ceiling details of visual interest – such as light fix- tures and wooden beams, knowing that they would mark the patient’s entire experience of the facility. In mapping the user experience of family and friends, a very different sequence emerged, taking in much more of the facility. The team also was posed with a challenge: How could we plan a facility that sup- ported their various expressions of grief? Because everyone grieves differently, we integrated a range of flexible, multifaceted spaces for the use of patients’ families and friends, from a large “public” area anchored by a stone fireplace to a two-story “reflection room” to User experience maps help with hospice design Katie Vander Putten, AIA, EDAC Director of health care, principal, MOA Architecture MOA Architecture When designing hospice, the facility’s users can be divided into three categories: patients, family and friends of patients, and staff members. Please see Vander Putten, Page 16