In the News
Publication: CBC News
Title: Ont. nursing homes have had 22 years to do safety upgrades. COVID-19 reveals deadly cost of delay
Date: June 9, 2020
Dochitect speaks to CBC News about impact of nursing home design on infection control in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Excerpt: How design can affect health
Diana Anderson, a medical doctor and architect from Montreal who has worked on hospital design projects in the U.S., Canada and Australia and specializes in environments for geriatric patients, says the four-person wards, in particular, pose a number of risks. “You’re bringing more pathogens in from the outside based on how many people are coming in and out of that space,” she said. “Not only do you have staff, you have family members and loved ones of the three other roommates with you.”
She says sharing a washroom means more opportunities to spread viruses between residents in the same room, plus it makes staff less likely to wash their hands between patients when they aren’t passing by a washroom each time. When Marketplace reviewed data from homes that lost 20 per cent of their residents or more to the coronavirus, it found 65 per cent of those homes had C-level accommodations.
The fact that so many Ontario homes only meet a 1972 structural standard is an “interesting timeline,” said Anderson, the doctor and architect. She said it wasn’t until the 1980s that architecture shifted to what’s called evidence-based design, which means incorporating research on the relationship between physical space and health into the design of a structure.
In geriatric settings, she said, studies have shown building design has an impact on health outcomes for infection control and fall prevention. “There is quite a convincing data set for the move toward single rooms,” she said, pointing to a medical journal study published in 2019 that showed the benefits of the single-room model for hospitals in slowing the spread of infections.