Rehabilitation environments: Service users' perspective

Maggie Killington, Dean Fyfe, Allan Patching, Paul Habib, Annabel McNamara, Rachael Kay, Venugopal Kochiyil, Maria Crotty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Design of rehabilitation environments is usually “expert” driven with little consideration given to the perceptions of service users, especially patients and informal carers. There is a need to engage with consumers of services to gain their insights into what design aspects are required to facilitate optimum physical activity, social interaction and psychological responses when they are attempting to overcome their limitations and regain function. 

Research design: Qualitative exploratory study. 

Method: Interviews were conducted with patients (n = 54) and informal carers (n = 23), and focus groups with rehabilitation staff (n = 90), from the three metropolitan South Australia rehabilitation health services, comprising different building and environmental configurations. Thematic analysis was assisted by the use of NVivo 11 qualitative software, with pooled data from all interviews and focus groups undergoing open, axial and finally selective coding. 

Results: Four major themes were identified as follows: (a) choice can be an Illusion in a rehabilitation ward; (b) access to outside areas is a priority and affects well-being; (c) socialization can be facilitated by the environment; and (d) ward configuration should align with the model of care. 

Discussion and Conclusion: Participants who encountered the most restrictive environments accepted their situation until probed to consider alternatives; those who enjoyed the most choice and access to facilities showed the greatest enthusiasm for these affordances. Future architectural designers should therefore consider the perceptions of a wide range of consumers with varying experiences to ensure they understand the complex requirements of patients and that the ward design facilitates the optimum rehabilitation model of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-404
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number3
Early online date10 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • buildings
  • carers
  • choices
  • clinicians
  • consumers
  • environments
  • outside
  • patients
  • rehabilitation
  • well-being


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