Mark Healey: Bates Smart shares a long-standing relationship with Cabrini Health that spans over 50 years, having designed MC1+2, and now the new Gandel Wing. What is the value of partnerships in the healthcare environment?
Dr Michael Walsh: I think the most important element of a partnership in healthcare is a synchronicity of core values. That is, the core values that underpin both organisations. What Cabrini has learned over time from the long relationship with Bates Smart is a deep knowledge of the company’s ethos. This benefits both parties because it means there is more opportunity for innovation as a result of this strong understanding of each other.
MH: Bates Smart and Cabrini work so well together because there is a shared ethos. I think this really resonates with the local community and the tremendous support that has been shown for the building. What do you think is unique about Cabrini that allows these partnerships to flourish with the community?
MW: Cabrini enjoys a strong community identity in Malvern. There is a wide range of local community groups in the area – Jewish, Italian, Greek – with whom Cabrini Health has grown. We’ve also benefited from being part of a sort of medically-focussed belt stretching from Prahran and down to Clayton. I think if you walked the halls of Cabrini, a lot of patients would recall their being born in the area. So from the beginning, Cabrini has always been a community facility. And I think with that loyalty, the community can develop a sense of trust in the whole design team to deliver first-class healthcare services.
MH: We design with the concept of salutogenesis in mind, an approach that focuses on healing and wellbeing rather than treating disease. Do you think design can affect the patients’ ability to recover and how important is this concept for Cabrini?
MW: I absolutely believe that good healthcare design can deeply benefit a patient’s recovery, and there is good evidence to support this. It’s fascinating to notice the way things have evolved over 60 or 70 years in design thinking, the delivery of healthcare, and the impact of that on the outcome for the patient.
One of the interesting things about Cabrini is its history tracing back to the 1950s. There are various living and breathing epochs scattered around the site, and if you walk through them you will notice a gradual emergence of a design thinking that considers the amenity of patients, visitors and staff.
What is really crucial in the design of the Gandel Wing is the emphasis on environment. Not only with the use of natural materials to give rooms a warm ambience, but the idea of a healing environment that encourages patients and their families to start thinking outside of their illness rather than being introspective. The Gandel wing is a significant milestone in healthcare design thinking that puts the patient experience and wellbeing at the forefront.