Designing along the continuum of care outside the healthcare market

March 16, 2017 Brenda Bush-Moline

What places will support health and wellness tomorrow? 

Today’s emerging wellness model considers health across a wide continuum of care. This model is designed to influence healthy behavior and lifestyle, to prevent disease and ultimately keep members of the community from requiring acute care. But what will the spaces look like where it will take place? 

This multi-channel approach to healthcare will need spaces attuned to and reflective of the identities and preferences of the communities in which they are located. It will likely include some of the typical healthcare environments we see today, from the fast care clinic to acute and critical care facilities, but will also take place in hybrid spaces that fulfill needs we are just beginning to envision.   

Attending to the continuum of care will require a variety of spaces that correspond to the priority aspects of health and wellness in the moment. Health education, peer counseling and advocacy will require environments supportive of nuanced communications, while diet and nutrition services are likely to be accessed in social settings. In order to truly modify practiced behaviors many of these engagements along the journey toward mindfulness in health must be more attractive than what we’ve seen before. So what are the related markets that will inform them and in what ways?

Where can we look today for a vision of these spaces to come?



Contemporary workplace design will inform spaces which provide the care team with places for internal reflection as well as intensive collaboration. These spaces must “take care” of the provider team, offering respite and rejuvenation. We are looking to fundamentals of current workplace design at Stantec which seeks to create “we” spaces for collaboration on the care protocol and “me” spaces for quiet thinking and contemplation. We’re looking for a balance and quick accessibility as the care team modulates between extremes.



From hospitality design, we’re taking away the creation of a memorable sensory experience based on story-telling. Investing in setting the mood upon arrival, creating a distinct memory upon departure and sculpting a branded experience throughout the stay are crucial. Achieving this requires attention to sensory integration and holistic design.



It’s about engagement at the right level. In the continuum of care model, in contrast to the traditional model, the individual is in the driver’s seat, making choices— we aspire to offer a range of healthy ones as the inevitable outcome. Like the best merchandising strategists, health and wellness settings will be designed as an array of offerings with clear information and choice at every level. 



In the new paradigm, each of us is an advocate for our own health as well as for those in our sphere of influence. Education is key to making health lifestyle choices, which are influenced by our family dynamics, social circles and day-to-day demands. How can we foster a partnership between education and healthy living in the settings on the continuum? Health and wellness education gives members of the community a platform for self-advocacy. These non-acute care centers will be places for gathering, for socializing and for sharing. Practically speaking, influencing lifestyle and healthy choices requires spaces that where education can happen synergistically while networking with a community of peers seeking a shared health improvement goal.

In order for any of these spaces to command their power as change agents and succeed, they must be well-integrated and ultimately create captivating and memorable experiences tailored to each individual according to their personal goals. Design has a role to play in a new healthcare paradigm, but we will need to draw on a wide array of expertise and thinking to create spaces that promote wellness wherever we are on our journey.

About the Author

Brenda Bush-Moline

Brenda Bush-Moline is a healthcare design leader and focuses her efforts on integrated health design and creating places of healing and wellness.

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