© 2018 Neil Stacey

Personal health – a well-timed warning?

Over the course of the past few months I have not been on top form and not very good at doing much about it. Suffice to say I caught a bit of flu which led to a bought of pneumonia in February, from which I am still recovering and will be for quite a while. I do not recommend pneumonia. Its not pleasant. Indeed it was alarming in both the speed with which it developed and the severity of the symptoms. Not being able to breathe well is not much fun at all. It scared the shit out of me to be frank. So for the time being any focus upon ‘architecture and well-being’ needs to be secondary to a focus on personal well-being.

During my brief stay at Glenfield Hospital, where I was very well looked after, I did reflect upon the contribution, if any, of the design of the environment to my recovery. Whilst the surrounding architecture seemed secondary, if not tertiary or less, compared to the value of the comfort of the hospital bed, oxygen on tap and antibiotics, when I came to be discharged I was knocked sideways by the extraordinary ill-effect of the design of the environment from which I was discharged.

Once it was confirmed I could function happily without using the on-tap oxygen, and the noise of my lungs was deemed ok and on the mend, I was informed I could go home and that this would involve me vacating my bed as soon as possible and going to the ‘discharge lounge’ to await a discharge letter and further prescription. I felt ok, not brilliant but certainly better than I had done. In the space of the next 3 hours I sat in the most awful room and felt myself physically deteriorate. Acoustically the room was incredibly harsh – so much so that I utilised some hearing protectors given to me to help me sleep on the ward. There was minimal (minuscule) daylight and over-bright, migraine inducing artificial light. The layout was dehumanising – with seats organised with a nod and a wink to battery chicken architecture, with a mismatch of chairs, tables, leaflets, screens……. I am sure my sensitivities were heightened but nonetheless I felt physically repulsed by my short stay in the room and convinced my recovery was hampered by the poor quality of the discharge environment, which served to highlight that the other rooms and spaces in which I was treated were in fact ‘well’ designed……….