Using the washroom in a public building is an experience few of us look forward to. While our bathrooms at home are viewed as a space for wellbeing or even a sanctuary, there’s a large gap between this and our perceptions of public washrooms, which have a much more functional role.
Research shows that nearly every experience we have in a public washroom is accompanied by a negative perception, ranging from concerns over hygiene, to waiting times, to lack of privacy. And although we spend little time in public restrooms, our experiences of them can have a big impact on our overall perceptions of the organizations responsible for them – almost 90% of people admit that a dirty or smelly washroom would put them off patronizing a business or organization in future.
While many commercial businesses are already alert to these facts, public sector buildings – especially healthcare buildings – have been slower to respond.
Toilets in hospitals and long-term care homes are necessarily functional – they are designed to do their job while also supporting safety and infection control. This can often result in a rather ‘institutional’ aesthetic that favours practicality over looks.
But as expectations on washrooms evolve in the private sector, healthcare washrooms are falling further and further behind – and at a time when people are seeking reassurance that hospitals are safe, clean places to be, perceptions have never been more important.
By investing in washroom upgrades – and taking advantage of the latest innovations – hospitals and care homes can create washroom spaces that are the antithesis of institutional, ensuring people feel comfortable without compromising on practical performance.
The role of colour
Colour isn’t something we usually give a lot of thought to when it comes to the washroom. The vast majority of washroom fixtures and accessories come in a limited range of standard colours with white and stainless steel featuring heavily. Sales of partitions in standard shades of white, grey and cream far outstrip other options – but there are other options, and they might just surprise you!
Colour can have a big impact on washroom perceptions. A recent UK study by Formica Group revealed that over half of people said washroom décor affected their perception of how the bathroom smelled – for example, showing that washrooms decorated in earthy tones of cream and brown were often perceived as less hygienic than those decorated in monochrome or pastel shades.
Combined with overall washroom design, colour can also influence how luxurious a washroom is perceived to be and as a direct result, affect our assumptions of how well looked after that space is.
More and more, we’re seeing healthcare buildings aiming to replicate the kind of sleek washroom aesthetics currently found in restaurants and deluxe hotels – offering patients, staff and visitors much more than just a practical place to complete bodily functions, but an uplifting space that clearly prioritizes their privacy and comfort. Doing so sends a clear message that the washroom, and the people that use it, are important.
This means choosing washroom fittings that blend seamlessly into an overall interior design scheme.
Innovations in washroom style
We’re currently seeing the most incredible innovations coming from our manufacturing partners at Bobrick, Bradley, Symmons and American Specialties – from stunning, full height partitions in a range of luxury finishes and bold colours, to architectural-looking accessories like recessed, no-touch hand dryers available in a range of colours to blend seamlessly into the wall, to deluxe brushed nickel mobility aids that serve to enhance the look and feel of the washroom as well as its functionality.
It’s now possible to find toilet partitions that match perfectly with wall and floor finishes – and indeed, that co-ordinate with the overall branding of a healthcare facility or department. Accessories like hand dryers and paper dispensers can be much more than just functional items – the latest designs allow these fixtures to blend invisibly into their surroundings or in some cases, to stand out as design features in their own right!
As well as being stylish, these features also have key benefits that are relevant to the healthcare sector – we recently blogged about the reasons why European style, full privacy toilet partitions can offer improved outcomes for hospital patients, and it’s not hard to imagine how technology such as no-touch hand dryers and dispensers can positively impact on infection control.
The bottom line is that sleek, well-designed washrooms do make a real difference for people in hospital – especially for inpatients, since privacy and comfort can impact significantly on their wellbeing and recovery time.
At Belroc, we have a wealth of expertise helping our healthcare clients to fit out their washrooms using the latest innovative speciality products to create inclusive, accessible spaces that exceed user expectations in every way, from privacy to visual aesthetics – which in turn inspires confidence and helps to make every public restroom experience a positive one.
For further information, sample packs or to discuss your requirements, email Owen Lawrenson or request a callback.