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Josef Hargrave

Global foresight manager

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Healthcare lighting and staff well-being

Healthcare lighting and staff well-being

Focus Area



Healthcare, Lighting





Over recent decades the role of lighting in healthcare settings has become the subject of increasing interest. This has been driven by the need to reduce energy consumption and by the recognition that physical environment can influence health, well-being, and length of hospital stays. Lighting designs used to be based primarily on visual needs, but now we need a new, evidence-based approach that takes into account human needs, architectural integration and energy consumption.

Rightly these approaches begin with the patient; but it is equally important to understand how lighting can improve staff well-being and productivity, since this has a major impact on patient care as well as on the overall running of the care facilities.

This project aimed to improve knowledge of how daylight influences staff and patients in healthcare settings and to investigate how this could be used to improve building design.  Focusing on the role of daylight in staff satisfaction and productivity and its links to patient recovery, the research team brought daylight design to the fore and developed daylighting guidelines for a new generation of sustainable hospitals.

Key Findings

Lighting for ageing eyes will become increasingly important. Error rates in prescription dispensing decreased when light levels were optimised.

Nurses exposed to more than three hours of daylight per shift experience less stress, but many nurse stations and break rooms have no daylight.

Patients who receive a daylight view have been correlated to a 22% decrease in analgesic medication needed per hour, also benefiting staff to have time for tending to other tasks.

Current literature is not sufficient to prove, or not, a direct link between daylight and productivity.

Measures to improve daylighting and provide more views, such as windows, could also create glare and reduce privacy.


The findings from this research can be used to design better environments for patients and healthcare workers. By creating better working environments for healthcare staff through lighting and building design, there is the potential to reduce both stress and dispensing errors and to improve productivity. By improving the environment for patients, we can help to improve recovery times and reduce the length of stays. All this will increase the value of our healthcare design work.

This project provides a solid base of research from which to study the support for current approaches to light in hospitals, and to develop new approaches to lighting in healthcare settings.


Great effort goes into researching links between lighting and patient recovery, so as to shorten patients’ stays in hospital. But little research had previously been done on the impact on staff. Staff have traditionally been given second priority when it comes to lighting, even though in the UK staff are the NHS’ most expensive asset.

This project has improved our concept of effective hospital design and lighting for healthcare environments. These findings can prompt discussions on how hospitals should be designed in the future, and created opportunities to discuss lighting with healthcare architects and professionals.