Inspired by Keeney’s (1992) theory of “value-focused thinking,” we asked Australian-based palliative care staff to think about the facility in which they deliver care and how it relates to the philosophy that guides their work.

Making clearer the relationship between spaces and the values that underpin care can help to focus design attention where it can make the biggest impact on palliative care experiences. 89 staff responded to our online survey with incredibly rich results.

A key finding is that gardens and outdoor spaces perform a greater role in the delivery of palliative care than is reflected within the current literature; providing vital spaces to spend precious hours with loved ones, for families to grieve, and offering a reprieve from long hours spent within the hospital. 

To read about our findings, see our article recently published within the Healthcare Environments Research and Design Journal (follow this link to access the article or contact us here to request a copy by email). This article highlights the following implications for the design of palliative care facilities:

  • Privacy and homeliness are critical to assisting the optimal delivery of palliative care, yet the focus on patient bedrooms and comfortable furnishings is suppressing recognition of the broader capacity of design to support these values.
  • Environments that lack adequate provision for patient and family comfort can result in staff distress, while staff routinely prioritize the needs of patients and families above their own. This highlights a risk that staff well-being may be easily overlooked within architectural briefing processes and designers must remain aware of the need to advocate for spaces that support the well-being of palliative care staff.


Also recently published, in collaboration with the Melbourne School of Medicine and St Vincents Hospital, is a review of the literature available to date regarding the design of inpatient facilities for palliative care. Follow this link to access the article or contact us here to request a copy by email.