6 considerations when designing for plus size patients

Fact: 13% of the world’s adult population is obese.1 Whilst a hospital stay can be an unnerving experience for all of us, it may be more so for a plus sized person. When faced with a new environment, there is constant uncertainty around even the simple things we all take for granted, such as bathing, toileting and getting in and out of bed. The negative impact on the patient’s wellbeing should not be underestimated. Sufficient space and adequate weight capacity is always in the mind of a larger patient, which can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety in any situation.2


Is your healthcare facility designed and equipped to cope with larger patients?

  1. Access: Can the plus size patient transition through the hospital with ease? Think about movement through and within corridors, treatment rooms, operating theatres, diagnostic departments, lifts and bathrooms.
  2. Care environment: Is there enough space around the medical bed to accommodate larger equipment such as a wider medical bed, commode, bariatric chair, lifter and extra staff?
  3. Wider medical bed: The ideal hospital bed for a plus size patient will be wider than standard and may be longer. It will have functionality to assist with supported sitting and repositioning and will be fitted with a mattress that can efficiently manage pressure and moisture to reduce the risk of pressure injuries.
  4. Safe transfers: Do caregivers have the space they need to work ergonomically and safely using lift and transfer equipment? The use of ceiling lifts could solve some space issues
  5. Family: It is not unusual for family and friends to also be plus sized – is there sufficient wide seating in clinics, waiting areas, visitor rest rooms and restaurants?
  6. Dignity: Larger patients deserves the same level of dignity and respect as others. Are your patients reassured from the moment they enter your care? Do you have bariatric solutions and equipment readily available across the facility and does it look similar to that used for all patients?

Here at Arjo we have developed the guide for Architects and Planners, a digital portal that contains CAD drawings, room layout examples and space requirements for plus sized patients.  You can find free insights and drawings in the link below. 

Take me to the Architects & Planners Portal
1. World Health Organisation Fact Sheet 311 (2015): http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/ [Accessed June 2019]
2. Carr T. Consultant at www.fatlotsheknows.co.uk. Quoted in ArjoHuntleigh Guidebook for Architects and Planners, 4th edition. 2014