Better light could make A&E safer, study suggests

Better lighting in A&E departments could help reduce incidents of violence and aggression, new advice from the Design Council suggests.

Lighting was recommended as a way to improve the experiences of patients and families waiting in A&E departments, as part of a project looking at how better design could help reduce violent incidents.

‘Lighting levels and calm sounds can help to set the ambience of a space,’ says the Design Council’s guidance. ‘While natural lighting should be used as much as possible, because it has been shown to promote feelings of wellbeing, it can be helpful to design a variety of lighting schemes for different spaces in the waiting area, so patients can choose where they felt most comfortable to wait.’

Britain's A&E departments are under increasing strain, with a big increase in patients due to the ageing population and a lack of other out-of-hours care.

Observational research commissioned by the Design Council highlighted how light in A&E waiting areas was often bright and harsh, even at night. This was believed to contribute to feelings of stress and discomfort that could boil over into aggression.

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