Supportive Design in Healthcare

Supportive Design Theory is a theory designed by Roger Ulrich that explores the ways a designer can utilize the built environment to reduce stress. There are three principles to this theory, Sense of Control, Social Support, and Positive Distractions in physical surroundings. Architecture and design can hinder or promote the healing process. Applying these principles when designing facilities can promote wellness, specifically through the reduction of stress.

Sense of Control

This can be implemented through systems that enable the patient to control aspects of the room such as:

  • Bed position
  • Degree of natural light
  • Control over TV or music
  • Choosing artwork
  • Choosing food

Positive Distractions

These include static stimuli such as:

  • Reading material
  • Photographs
  • Representation of nature

Active stimuli includes:

  • Music
  • Companion animals
  • People laughing

Social Support

Environments that allow social support to happily thrive are key and can be supported through:

  • Comfortable seating for visitors
  • Spaces for family to stay overnight
  • Spaces for social activities
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