The physical environment and patients’ activities and care: A comparative case study at three newly built stroke units
Journal article, 2018
Aim: To explore and compare the impact of the physical environment on patients’ activities and care at three newly built stroke units. Background: Receiving care in a stroke unit instead of in a general ward reduces the odds of death, dependency and institutionalized care. In stroke units, the design of the physical environment should support evidence-based care. Studies on patients’ activities in relation to the design of the physical environment of stroke units are scarce. Design: This work is a comparative descriptive case study. Method: Patients (N = 55) who had a confirmed diagnosis of stroke were recruited from three newly built stroke units in Sweden. The units were examined by non-participant observation using two types of data collection: behavioural mapping analysed with descriptive statistics and field note taking analysed with deductive content analysis. Data were collected from April 2013 - December 2015. Results: The units differed in the patients’ levels of physical activity, the proportion of the day that patients spent with health professionals and family presence. Patients were more physically active in a unit with a combination of single and multi-bed room designs than in a unit with an entirely single-room design. Stroke units that were easy to navigate and offered variations in the physical environment had an impact on patients’ activities and care. Conclusions: Patients’ activity levels and interactions appeared to vary with the design of the physical environments of stroke units. Stroke guidelines focused on health status assessments, avoidance of bed-rest and early rehabilitation require a supportive physical environment.