Most patients who struggle with mental health or behavioral issues are not violent. However, aggressive behavior in inpatient settings can still be a serious issue. Patients can become aggressive as a result of medication reactions, personal trauma, or their underlying conditions, leading to restraint, sedation, and even seclusion.
Aggressive behavior endangers not just the affected patient but also other residents and the staff. Thankfully, there are some simple ways that psychiatric hospitals can reduce patient aggression. Read on to find out how architectural design can create an environment that is more conducive to healing and calm.
Creating Positive Distractions
Positive distractions, both inside the facility and on its grounds, can help to keep patients calm by reducing their stress. Psychiatric Furniture Suppliers create chairs and other items that balance aesthetic appeal and comfort with safety, so changing the furniture can be a good, affordable option. Installing well-curated outdoor gardens, where possible, can also help to reduce stress and aggression.
Harnessing the Calming Power of Nature
Even in facilities that don’t have access to safe open spaces, exposure to nature can help to keep patients calm. Open the curtains to let in plenty of daylight and replace potentially aggravating abstract art with representational paintings of natural scenes. Depending on their designs and unique patient profiles, some facilities may also be able to incorporate potted plants or small water features.
Minimizing Environmental Stressors
Psychiatric hospitals can be stressful places. Many of them feel cold and institutional, and there’s often a lot of noise. Excessive, unpredictable, or uncontrolled noise can increase stress and patient aggression levels in any healthcare setting, so it’s especially important for behavioral healthcare facilities to minimize these environmental stressors.
Facility designers or managers can minimize sound transmission by installing acoustically rated walls or softening the interior surfaces of the rooms. It can also help to give patients more control over their immediate environments by implementing moveable seating, lighting control in patient rooms, and opportunities for patients to personalize their spaces.
Soften That Institutional Look
Patient safety is the top priority of every psychiatric hospital, so institutional features like locks, cameras, and enclosed nursing stations are often necessities. Try to soften that institutional look by utilizing less obtrusive safety measures such as creating direct lines of sight from open nursing stations to minimize the use of security cameras and purchasing furniture that doesn’t need to be bolted to the floor.
Create More Private Space
Crowding can increase anxiety, especially in restricted or confined spaces, and anxious patients are more likely to lash out. Address crowding by providing patients with private rooms and bathrooms whenever possible and larger numbers of small communal areas instead of one giant community room. These steps can reduce social density and make it easier for patients to regulate their interactions, increasing feelings of autonomy and making them feel more empowered.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to managing patient aggression in psychiatric hospitals, there’s no replacement for a skilled and compassionate nursing team. Implementing the architectural and design features described above can also help, though, which will take some of the burdens off of the staff and help to keep all of the patients comfortable and safe. Not every psychiatric hospital has the space to provide private rooms or the money to install secure outdoor gardens, but every facility manager can take steps like increasing autonomy with moveable furniture and changing the art that’s on the walls.