The importance of designing our hospitals with visitor and community comfort front of mind

Post Date
07 November 2023
Melissa Thomas
Kris Stone
Read Time
2 minutes

SLR have worked across Australia with Mental Health Service Facilities (MHSF) seeking development approvals, and can identify and respond to the limitations of the generic parking assumptions and planning controls made for Hospital sites.

Across the majority of jurisdictions, the car park rates identified for Hospitals relate to bed and staffing numbers, and can outline vastly different rates. Very rarely is any distinction made on whether a hospital is public or private, critical care or research, regional or metro, short or long stay. Not surprisingly, assumptions and studies informing the rates are often over 30 years old, and certainly have not accounted for changes to health service delivery, changing trends in how people come to hospital sites, or the implementation of on-site paid parking.

In considering the different types of hospitals that collectively receive the same parking assumptions, the oversimplification is evident. It would be intuitively understood that a maternity ward is likely to have a peak parking demand from visitors in the evening period. Whereas a day surgery procedure hospital will not have any visitors, but require that patients be dropped off and collected for duty-of-care reasons. These dynamics will be significantly different, both in terms of likelihood and profile of car-based demand.

In a MHSF setting, in-patients are typically not permitted to drive to site, and their length of stay and scheduling of visitors is undertaken in a significantly different context to a surgical hospital. Typically, the level of staffing would also be different, noting no surgical functions or post-operative care are being carried out on the site.

Our Transport Advisory and Planning teams have extensive experience in all aspects of health care operations, and the impacts on travel and parking demand. Factoring in all the complexities noted, SLR implements an alternate traffic engineering approach that has been developed to estimate the demand for parking associated with the proposed mental healthcare development. This approach is informed by a ‘first-principles’ assessment of the staff, patient and visitor travel demands and behaviours.

The approach has been adopted by SLR on other similar mental health sites across Australia and has been approved by other local government authorities. In addition to a first principles assessment, a desktop study of car parking rates provided by similar facilities is also presented, for comparison to the carpark supply proposed for the mental healthcare facility.

As a result, SLR have a centralised data baseline that can provide a detailed and accurate analysis of the peak parking demand for a MHSF, that can be utilised to inform and justify a development proposal from a parking perspective.

If you have any enquiries or questions regarding Health projects, please feel free to contact us, where you can talk to one of our experts.

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