Designing Staff Respite Spaces: Prevent Burnout

Designing Staff Respite Spaces: Prevent Burnout

Although the pandemic challenges have diminished, the healthcare industry is still feeling overwhelmed by staff shortages. This is causing burnout among nurses and doctors. 

As the biggest generation heads towards retirement, seeing an end to this lack of staff is difficult. With not enough recruits to replace those retiring, and the staff already maxed out the strain is causing a lack of care for both non-critical and critical patients and surgeries, resulting in more deaths.

This translates to forcing the existing staff to work longer hours, which increases the importance of staff respite spaces. The pressures of the healthcare industry can lead staff to feel exhausted, hungry, and stressed. Without a space to relax, it can reflect in their performance. An area that provides a ‘change of scenery’ can become an invaluable part of the staff’s day, even if they only have a few minutes to break.

Enough with the negative…Let’s talk about designing staff respite spaces!

Here are five things to consider when designing a staff respite space.

1.The time and money spent on designing these spaces. Sometimes spaces like this do not feel like a priority because patients rarely enter this area. However, although not directly affecting the patient, consider this as the start of the chain, causing a knock-off effect that in turn indirectly impacts the patients. Budgets can be tight, but the return on investment is substantial when creating this space. Gain on recruitment/retention, employee satisfaction, and patient care makes it worth every penny!

2.Multiple options. This could be in terms of seating or activities they can participate in. Every person is different, some may need quiet soft-seating areas, some may need places for discussions with co-workers, or maybe even a game area. Include as many options as you can to ensure all staff members have a place to relax.

  Courtesy of PSQH

3.Natural light and nature. Access to natural light and/or a touch of biophilic design can make a huge difference. Pick a space with a lot of windows; if that is not possible, bring in the natural vibe with plants, paint colors, and fabric choices.

Courtesy of Stance Healthcare

4.Ability to recharge. It may only be 15 minutes that staff can visit this space, so ensure they are provided everything they need to be refreshed and ready to get back to helping the patients.

5.Little things amount to big things. Budgets and renovating spaces can place restraints on your wiggle room for designing these spaces. Start small and build up. Even just new seating, personal storage space, or paint are upgrades that can make a considerable difference to a space.

  Eli Collection                                                                           Avalon Collection

Healthcare facilities focus on helping those requiring care to heal. These facilities are a vital part of our society, and the staff within them are instrumental. Because of this, healthcare staff have to be alert, rested, and charged to ensure the patients are provided with the best support possible. Ensuring the staff is cared for can greatly improve the results of patient care. In turn, leading to a better healthcare system and a healthier society.

We’d love to help you create a staff respite space for your facility, reach out to us today for advice!


Steven M. Alby, N. L. (2022). A Small Investment With Significant Return. Revisiting Staff Respite Spaces

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