With our aspirations for a good life – should it not be that we live this good life to the very end? Dying has, for a long time occurred at home, a place of safety and comfort – yet as we live longer and medical sciences advance, more than half the population are now dying in hospital environments.
Large medical institutions, such as hospitals can often be clinical and sterile feeling – environments that are designed and built to support diagnosis and treatment for identified illnesses. Hospices, however, deliver palliative care, and are becoming more widely accepted in our experiences of the end of our lives. For those not able to remain at home – the in-patient hospice provides bedded round the clock care for those in the very last period of their life in a place that focuses not only on symptom management but psychological and emotional care.
Yet in-patient hospices often look and feel much like a hospital. In architectural terms, the ‘language’ of the spaces does not reflect the attitude that palliative care champions; that of comfort, dignity, and safety. This research aims to use the lived experiences of the care givers to understand how co-production between healthcare and architecture can generate more positive experiences of end-of-life care. The practice-led research aims to strategise broad principles to help architects, designers, and hospices themselves understand best to approach future projects in a more informed and holistic manner