HCD Conference Overview: Design and Operational Considerations for Pediatric Mental Health - HCD Magazine

HCD Conference Overview: Design and Operational Considerations for Pediatric Mental Health – HCD Magazine

The Healthcare Design Conference + Expo 2022 will be held October 8-11 in San Antonio. The annual event will offer a variety of lectures and breakout sessions on a range of topics.

healthcare design previews some of the upcoming educational sessions in a Q&A series with speakers, sharing what they plan to discuss and key takeaways they plan to offer attendees.

Session: Design and Operational Considerations for Pediatric Mental Health, October 11, 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Speakers: Francis Pitts, Director, Architecture+; Sherri Reyes, Behavioral Health Consultant, Human eXperience.

This presentation will discuss the unique challenges of designing pediatric mental health treatments. The discussion will include

unique design challenges, but also the role of operations in informing design and program decisions to achieve clinically effective and financially viable projects.

healthcare design: What changes have you seen in recent years in the way health systems talk about or approach pediatric mental health?

Frank Pitts adSherri Reyes: It’s the trifecta. Many health systems are:

  1. Now let’s talk about mental health.
  2. Numerous hospital emergency departments, medical/surgical and first responder floors are providing care at an unprecedented rate and for children and adolescents with higher acuity. This has led to an exponential increase in personnel costs and the depletion of valuable hospital resources.
  3. Many hospital systems are actively trying to convert higher demands into opportunities to serve children and adolescents in psychiatric crisis in a safer, more therapeutic, and financially viable continuum of care.

How is DIs the design for mental illness for youth different from the design for adults?

Pitts and Reyes: Operationally, the thinking is similar. Hospitals must first understand who they are treating in terms of age and diagnoses, while considering treatment resources and the hospital’s operational and financial goals.

Children and adolescents have different diagnostic and treatment needs in a hospital setting. To enable targeted evidence-based treatments for each diagnostic population, while addressing behavioral challenges, grouping children into groups based on age and diagnostic need is indicated when possible.

Nor can we take anything for granted when designing spaces for young people in terms of safety and supervision. They are more creative and driven to find vulnerabilities in the environment and then create their own entertainment. They’re smarter than us, and that should keep us on our toes.

What are some of the alternative treatment settings that are best suited to serving young patients?

Pitts and Reyes: Systems that have supported the development of a full continuum of mental health care have the most flexibility and agility to ensure they have the most responsive levels of care and staff resources to support children in the least restrictive program possible.

Some children’s hospitals are improving continuums of care to include alternative treatments consistent with current clinical research (e.g. outpatient and traditional outpatient services.

Clinically, involving children’s families in treatment is the best way to support meaningful and effective treatment plans for children. Mental health design synchronizes the clinical needs of children and families with the built environment.

This is done by providing a diverse range of family accommodations ranging from family education centers, family lounges on inpatient floors, supervised play areas for siblings, day beds for parents in specially designed inpatient rooms and Ronald McDonald support facilities.

What’s one takeaway from your session that you hope attendees go back to?

Pitts and Reyes: There is no one-size-fits-all solution for mental health. Every facility has different needs, which vary by hospital, market, and state. Understanding the clinical, operational and financial challenges and opportunities specific to each hospital is essential to creating solutions that meet the real needs of children, families, the hospital and the community.

For more information on the schedule and registration for the HCD conference, visit www.hcdexpo.com.

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