By: Antonio Gomez-Palacio and Diego Morettin
Imagine a hospital that contributes to the health of people, long before they need medical support. Today, new doors are opening to reveal how hospitals can contribute to a broader understanding of wellbeing – for individuals, families, and communities. It is time for us to renew the relationship between the health and wellbeing of communities and the design of the cities and buildings they inhabit, to meet current day health challenges.
Hospitals regularly engage patients to elicit feedback on the quality of their experience. It is a priority of the health care system to deliver services in the best way possible – and this should continue to be the case. Now, what would happen if the conversation expanded to ask: how can we (society) keep you (patient) from needing a hospital? How can we address the wellbeing of individuals and communities upstream, thus diminishing or delaying the need for a medical intervention?
This is at the core of the Community Wellbeing Framework – developed by the Conference Board of Canada, DIALOG, and a number of partnering organizations – an open-source methodology for designing places, or the built environment, within the interests of the wellbeing of a community, or occupants of a place. In fact, seeds of designing for community wellbeing have been planted in Ontario and elsewhere. In the southwest, the Town of Petrolia and Bluewater Health are together redefining the city in a first-ever town and hospital-designed master plan. Nearly 300 kilometres east, Niagara Health is distilling their extensive understanding of health to create a vision within the framework that will stand the test of time. Both projects have engaged their stakeholders through workshops to address community health and wellbeing.
"Community wellbeing is at the core of what happens at a hospital. A hospital is just small component of keeping people well, and I believe that improving the infrastructure around the hospital will actually enhance not just the hospital, but the health of the whole community." – Mike Lapaine, President and CEO, Bluewater Health.
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Antonio Gomez-Palacio and Diego Morettin are principals at DIALOG, a design practice of architects, urban planners, engineers, interior designers, and landscape architects that partnered with the Conference Board of Canada to create the Community Wellbeing Framework. The open-source methodology interprets the correlation between wellbeing of people and the physical world of built and natural settings. Obtain the free report at dialogdesign.ca/community-wellbeing or contact Antonio and Diego at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.