Thursday, November 4, 2010

Room For Change: " Waiting" or "Wanting to Get Out" Rooms

Perhaps it is cloudy or dreary days that brings out a critical perspective that lays dormant for some command performance. Today waiting rooms crawl to the surface of this damp and inclement weather.

Waiting Rooms.   Just the sound of "Wait" conjures up the sense of not moving forward.  "Wait" is  a loss of momentum.   So what benefits  can waiting rooms fulfill for those in health care and other industry services?   Are they simply " Wanting to Get Out" Rooms instead?

Waiting rooms, are like your front door, as they speak of your nature and your mindset of the day.
Waiting rooms, are like a incubator, for mental attitude to swell or mind lists to be congealed.
Waiting rooms , are like a hand written invitation, to an upcoming event and the expectations associated with it.

Do waiting rooms fulfill your needs? Are your service providers doing you a service in their waiting rooms?  How are you intuitively reacting to the setting.

After numerous medical waiting rooms attended by myself and my husband in his care during his terminal illness I became a big critic of waiting rooms without realizing it.  My impatience in the medical process and time I felt was wasted before and after our actual appointments lead me dreading another appointment date in most facilities or offices.

Roswell Park Cancer Institute was the first one to "speak" to me of compassion and comfort while retaining a business and service attitude of efficiency and individualization.  Their waiting rooms fulfilled my needs.

What does the physical "room" exhibit?

Not only is visual pleasure comforting for the patient/client but for the staff.  It sets the stage for what is to come.  Physical elements can include seating, lighting, privacy elements, accessibility to water or beverages, aromas, cleanliness and reading material.  Physical also includes how the flow of clients in and out proceeds and how those "waiting" are  integrated within  the process.  Physical can include how your voice or those of the staff travels within these walls and what adorns the walls if anything.

My pet peeves include:

Dirty upholstery or seating surfaces
Lack of lighting or sources of lighting
Outdated reading material and neglected
Uncomfortable seating or limited seating
Lack of privacy of conversation with staff
Dust laden silk or artificial plants
Left over furniture and accessories from other spaces flung together
Faded pictures or photos adorning the walls
Overstuffed literature for client left unattended and in disarray
Inadequate variety of seating to accommodate different physical abilities

These ten are a fraction of what others may find discomforting within such a space.

Suggestions to consider within such a space could include:

Rocking chairs
Fish tanks
Wall mounted water fountains
Current reading material
Nature DVD and photos
Good and varied lighting as well as natural lighting
Clean surfaces
Beverage station with neat disposal setup
Variety of seating options, i.e. armless and with arms, soft and firm
Variety in shapes and size of seating or side tables.
Availability of blankets for comfort and temperature control
Private screening area as needed for confidential conversation or scheduling
Lack of intense aroma ( neither medicinal nor strong artificial)

Yesterday I visited a new dentist and his office.   Not only did I do a mental checklist of what was pleasing to me, but overviewed what others might find comforting, pleasing and mind setting for their upcoming appointment.

The office included:

Efficient directions to the location and well marked door
Well appointed beverage station and welcoming staff upon entry
Several seating options around large round coffee table laden with current magazines
Chairs that swiveled to adjust client's perspective and comfort
Overhead lighting and ambient lighting
Wall mounted water fountain with backlight
Advertising material on adjacent table for inquiry, not on every surface
Separate area for interviewing new patient
Blankets available during session
Staff conversation at low level
Clean surfaces
Earthy color scheme

Waiting rooms set the stage for what is about to happen and how you, as a client ,will be serviced . More important it initiates the mindset you will bring into the interaction with the provider. Why not maximize all areas ?

Room for change , even in waiting rooms , is possible.  Yesterday, the wait was a pampering time out before my new association was made.  I left , not dreading my possible return, and if I arrived early to my next appointment, the wait.

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