3 strategies for the next behavioral health project

According to the American Society of Health Care Engineering (ASHE) 2020 hospital construction survey, the demand for inpatient behavioral health facilities has increased significantly in recent years, surpassing any other specialty hospital. In the foreseeable future, this trend is expected to continue for a variety of reasons.

First, healthcare owners are striving to better meet the needs of their communities for services and address the nationwide shortage of behavioral health beds by constructing new facilities and providing more space for behavioral patients in existing facilities. In addition, spaces designed for behavioral health care are often associated with better patient outcomes, such as reducing the likelihood of boarding in an emergency room (ED) or a shorter duration in the ED, including waiting time for treatment and being a patient The time spent in the hospital for the Education Department. The designated facilities also help patients with behavioral health avoid frustrations such as increased anxiety, paranoia, or other worsening symptoms by eliminating some of the common challenges in the traditional ED environment (such as longer waiting times and stressful stimulation environments).

Finally, clinical methods for treating behavioral health conditions — and built environments designed to help promote healing — have developed significantly in recent decades. Evidence-based design has given birth to a new generation of facilities that feel more warm and livable, paying more attention to contact with natural and natural light, noise reduction, entertainment and exercise, and sensory functions, including bean bag chairs, rocking chairs, audio equipment, music, water features and Aromatherapy can enhance health and mood while keeping patients safe.

As the demand for the design and construction of behavioral facilities continues to increase, project teams must understand some of the inherent challenges of these projects, such as increased delivery times for special products and the unique standards and safety requirements of behavioral facilities, as well as potential solutions to solve them. Here are some best practices to consider to help ensure success:

Over-communicationThe project team may consist of fewer experienced experts and more newcomers. This means that project leaders should be committed to excessive communication and adopt an educational and highly collaborative approach in all project relationships, discussions, and decision-making. Involve key stakeholders (design, construction, trading partners, and authorities with jurisdiction) as early as possible, and make every effort to educate all parties on behavioral health patients and safety strategies. This will help team members Work in the same knowledge base. Because risk tolerance, staffing models, patient demographics, safety standards, and products are constantly changing, and there may be significant differences between one project and the next, the team should also avoid prior behavioral health and other hospitals The project makes assumptions.

Establish sufficient project lead timeThe delivery time of professional products may be longer than expected, and it is easy to jeopardize the project schedule. In addition, the employee turnover rate in the behavioral health industry may be high, and frequent changes in project team members and end users can also have a negative impact on the schedule. The person in charge of the behavioral project should establish a timetable with sufficient lead time for all aspects from communication, education and decision-making to inspection. This helps prevent delays and rework later in the project, which ultimately saves time and ensures schedule certainty.

Strengthen attention to safetyIn view of the increased likelihood of patients harming themselves or others, the safety of patients and staff is particularly important for behavioral health institutions. In order to strengthen the attention to safety at each stage of the project, the project team and trading partners should try to observe and experience the environment through the eyes of patients by conducting simulated security and safety drills with facility staff and even patients. The team can also benefit from third-party ligature consultants reviewing drawings and visiting job sites.

In order to truly optimize safety, the project team should also coordinate and subcontract the project in different ways. It is very important to choose the right special items early in the project, such as the right screws for everything from pipes to furniture. Making these choices early and educating all stakeholders about these professional requirements will help trading partners and suppliers purchase the right items from the start, avoiding costly errors and delays. In addition, the delivery time of behavioral products and services is usually longer than that of typical healthcare projects because of their professional nature and the increased demand for behavioral health projects relative to supply in recent years. Therefore, obtaining the correct order as soon as possible is particularly important for maintaining the project schedule.

In addition, the professional nature of certain safety requirements, these professional requirements may vary by owner or jurisdiction (even from one year to the next), and because many people are unfamiliar with behavioral health constructions, differences and confusion, which lead to Decision delays and quality issues. Concentrating responsibility for mission-critical professional security products (such as pick-up caulk or facility-wide security) to a single trading partner can reduce the risk of differences between multiple trading partners and increase all partners to provide them with the right products The possibility of part of the project to ensure the consistency and safety of the entire facility.

As the demand for behavioral health programs continues to grow and standards continue to evolve, strategies such as these can help optimize project results, schedule certainty, and ultimately provide rehabilitation and safety for facility staff and the patients they serve.

Josh Meadows is the Vice President of Healthcare JE Dunn Construction (Nashville, Tennessee).He can be in josh.meadows@jedunn.com.

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