How to make your waiting room more kid-friendly

If your practice sees a wide range or patient traffic, chances are you have some younger and older individuals coming in for treatment. It is common to design a waiting area for those who are infirm or immobile, but what about the youngest members of the population? Too frequently, this space is only welcoming to adult patients, many of whom have cell phones or can entertain themselves. There tend to be few or sparse accommodations made for children. Even if you don't primarily see children in your practice, there are a few ways that the waiting room can be made more kid-friendly, in case parents have to bring their children in with them, or on the off chance you are looking to expand and incorporate a pediatric element to your office.

Create a balance
Physicians Practice suggests creating a balance in the space, between adult and younger patients. To do this, first the practice manager should invite in an impartial, unbiased observer to sit in the space and note what they experience. Then, he or she may want to hand out questionnaires to some patients, if they are willing, asking them to rate certain features of the room, the entertainment options and their impressions. This will give you a baseline from which to work. If the patient responses match your outsider's views, you know where work needs to be done.

Those practices that experience a wide range of patients may then want to consider rearranging furniture to create separate areas. The source said one such space can have its own television with children's shows - perhaps even only in use when a child sits down and turns it on. Adding an area, closed off by a screen for instance, where patients can be in private will give those feeling less well or more stressed out their own area as well. Then you can use the results of your survey to determine how the main area should be arranged, whether people need more magazines, it needs to be more quiet and so on.

Go back to basics
Children are smaller humans. In whatever child-friendly area you provide, or in the main waiting room, be sure to have some child-accommodating furniture as well, The Breakroom Blog, advised. In this space, have some easy-to-clean toys and books. The source also noted that the furniture in the main waiting space should also be of a varied nature. Have a selection of love seats or larger armchairs in case children want to cuddle with their caregivers.

In terms of decor, the room should be painted in a range of soft color; it is a good idea to steer clear of shades that evoke a clinical setting. Going bold with some primary hues on accent walls in the space is one way to make it seem more friendly, the source said.

Try the electronic route
So you've nailed the decor and the space, now what about entertainment? If it is possible, perhaps have a couple of iPads behind the desk to be rented to younger patients. Load these up with educational and character-themed games for many different ages and abilities. While the children wait, their parents can check out a device and let them play until it is time to see the physician.

Finally, consider subscribing to Netflix or another on-demand television service. Many of these have a collection of popular children's television shows. The kids can pick what to watch while waiting. To avoid disagreement, work with your IT provider to set a time limit or a program limit so more than one person can take a turn at picking a show.

With a bit of input from others and some minor redecorating, your waiting room will better be able to cater to both kids and adults,  creating a better experience for everyone.

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Kevin McCarthy

Industry News Editor

An avid traveler and news junkie, Kevin covers a range of topics from healthcare technology to policy and regulations. As a former journalism student, he enjoys finding stories relevant to small practices and is passionate about keeping them informed. Before joining NueMD, Kevin worked for Turner Broadcasting as a Programming Intern where he conducted legal research and contributed to editorial content development. He received his bachelor's degree in Communication from Kennesaw State University and currently serves as the Industry News Editor at NueMD.

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