As the obese population rises, so does the demand for thoughtfully designed spaces to accommodate obese patients. Bariatric design requires a fundamental shift in how designers approach healthcare environments for bariatric patients. The scale of bariatric furniture and equipment, clearances, and ratings must be carefully considered early on in the design process to meet the unique requirements of these spaces.
The FGI guidelines provide critical clearances and ratings to consider when designing a bariatric patient room. The bariatric patient room requires a larger door, larger clearances around the patient bed and a larger turning radius within the room. The hand washing sink is required to support the weight of a bariatric patient. The toilet room requires a larger shower, more clear space for the toilet, and for fixtures and grab bars that support a bariatric patient.
While it is important to include the above information into designing a bariatric patient room, designing to accommodate a bariatric patient shouldn’t stop there. Will the layout of the headwall work with a wider bariatric patient bed? Is the toilet room sink accessible for a bariatric wheelchair? Are the counters and cabinets suitable for a bariatric patient? A bariatric patient is more likely to have obese family members. Do the public and family areas accommodate obese family members? Are the bariatric design elements incorporated into the overall design of the building? These are all questions that should be considered when designing a unit serving bariatric patients.
The goal of bariatric design is to provide a comfortable, dignified, and safe environment for bariatric patients, their family, and their healthcare providers. To achieve this goal, it is critical to consider the larger scale and capacity needed in all elements of the healthcare environment and the impact this will have on the design.