Staff wellbeing underpins building design at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Staff health and wellbeing was a key aim in the design of the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building, one of two new buildings that will form the Mittal Children’s Medical Centre at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London.

Great Ormond Street Hospital Morgan Stanley Clinical Building

The building, which opened in 2012, has seven floors, one of which is the staff restaurant, which has wall-to-ceiling glazed windows and runs along the entire length of the building.

Unlike the traditional hospital set-up, there is a staff room away from the ward area, with views over Coram’s Fields, an urban park, and separate stairs and lifts to prevent staff having to walk through the hospital to enter and leave the building.

Joanne Trussler, clinical director at GOSH, says: “The thinking behind it was that we allow staff to get away from their work, because they’re often working 12-hour shifts. It is important for them to feel they’ve got some privacy and some quality time whenever they take their break, because working with sick children and families can be very tiring and very demanding emotionally.”

Trussler says research was conducted on the impact of art on staff wellbeing and morale, which resulted in selected pieces being displayed in staff areas.

Staff were engaged in the building’s design process an early stage, and worked closely with the architects to achieve their desired workplace.

“We’ve tried to get staff, from an early stage, to think about how they were going to work differently in the building, and also how they were going to use the amount of space they were going to get,” says Trussler.

“Some of them had come from very small, cramped wards, and that meant quite a change for them, psychologically as well as physically.”

Two-dimensional plans of the building’s design were used to encourage a new way of thinking about it ahead of its completion. After staff moved in, team games, such as treasure hunts, were used to help them get to know the new space.

Trussler adds: “So it wasn’t just the redevelopment team telling staff [how to use the space]; they needed to feel they owned their space. Part of the transformation was about staff understanding that they wouldn’t just move in and do exactly what they did before; they have to feel that they own that area.”

GOSH is now working on a post-project evaluation to assess the new building’s impact on staff health and wellbeing , but anecdotal feedback suggests employees particularly like the space and the light.

“There’s much more space at bedsides to provide care, and more privacy for staff to speak with patients and parents, so that’s helped their wellbeing because they’re not as stressed ,” says Trussler.

“Also, anecdotally, stress levels in our intensive care space have reduced because the new layout is very different to the previous one, which was very open-plan and had a lot of noise because of the machinery.”