Inside a mid-century modern style hospice designed for end-of-life caregiving

The mid-century modern style of interior design was popularized during the 1940s, and remains popular for good reason. Defined by clean lines, organic forms, minimal ornamentation, and high functionality, the style has an undeniably timeless appeal.

In the design of Singapore’s first-of-its-kind Day Hospice by HCA Hospice Care (HCA) and Lien Foundation, Oasis@Outram redefines end-of-life caregiving to focus on the personal growth of not just patients but also the community around them. It leverages design thinking to shift the conventional caregiving model to a progressive one that aims to foster positive connections between patients and the wider community surrounding them such as family members, caregivers and volunteers.

Patients can expect atypical and fun hospice facilities such as an open bar, a ‘spalon’ for manicures, massages and haircuts, and community-led programmes to reframe the end-of-life stage in Singapore and internationally as a period of positivity, personal growth, and community support.

“As Singapore’s largest home hospice care provider, HCA has always strived to provide quality comfort and support to patients with life-limiting illnesses. The new Day Hospice at Oasis@Outram exemplifies our commitment to blaze new trails in the field of palliative care and to add life to the days of our patients. We want our patients to be able to do what they want, when they want and feel the dignity that they so deserve,” said Ms Angeline Wee, Chief Executive Officer of HCA.

Designed for high function and aesthetically-pleasing interiors

Oasis@Outram’s caregiving framework is anchored by the three ‘D’s – Dignity, Diversity, and Development. Respecting the dignity of patients is of utmost importance, with all aspects of care acknowledging qualities that make patients unique individuals. For example, patients have the autonomy to choose from a diverse range of activities and programmes at any given time when they are at Oasis@Outram.

The caregiving framework also aims to facilitate the development and growth of patients, encouraging them to reflect and find meaning despite facing the end of life. The three ‘D’s philosophy is supported by the environment design of the hospice, which was done by the 2015 President’s Design Award recipient, Lekker Architects.

Beyond functionality and safety, the aesthetically-pleasing design allows patients to derive pleasure from their surroundings and supports a model of care that values patients’ dignity. From the spatial configuration and environment set-up that respects the patients’ personal choice to move through and use the hospice’s space as they wish, to the use of colours and materials that evoke a sense of nostalgia and warmth, Oasis@Outram’s design challenges the conventional hospice concept of utility, emphasising the importance of heartware, in addition to hardware, in a caregiving facility.

“Oasis@Outram is conceived as a place that celebrates life in the face of death.” Remarking on the design of the centre, he added, “In spaces run by charities, functionality is often prioritised over design. But well-designed spaces can sometimes bring healing and dignity when human companions can’t, especially for social-emotional challenges. We hope Oasis@Outram inspires the design of similar facilities in future,” said Mr Gabriel Lim, Programme Director of Lien Foundation.

Unique and fun facilities to foster mental wellness and support from family and friends

The hospice has also developed key service rituals that are integrated into every aspect of the patient’s experience from start to finish in collaboration with The Care Lab, an international design studio that looks to reimagine care through design. Led by the 2018 President’s Design Award recipient Lekshmy Parameswaran and László Herczeg, the team specially designed a service journey for Oasis@Outram that facilitates the patients’ development and growth, encouraging them to reflect and find meaning despite facing the end of life.

Activities at Oasis@Outram are not mandatory and patients have the option to opt-out of activities if they wish. Examples of key service rituals include:

DAY WALL A wall displays the various activities happening throughout the day which patients have the freedom to partake in, ranging from horticultural sessions to a manicure at the spa, or even a bubble bath at the jacuzzi for children.

OPEN CAFÉ AND BAR AREA Patients and family members can gather here over coffee to create fond experiences through unexpected moments.

WONDER CART A roving cart of excitement and entertainment that is used to celebrate birthdays and liven up everyday activities at the day hospice.

THE WHEEL OF LIFE An icebreaker conversational toolkit for patients to reflect on how satisfied they are in different aspects of their life currently, and then map out personal goals they want to work towards improving.

BITE SIZE FUTURE KIT An afternoon tea session where a snack or candy will be paired with a card that contains a question relating to end-of-life choices for the patient such as “Are you afraid of being a burden to your family and others?” and “Where do you want to die?. Patients and their loved ones will then be prompted to discuss difficult but important topics with a trained staff member. The use of such toolkits allow patients to unpack and communicate their needs and desires in a simple and playful way, and helps to foster greater trust between patients, their family members and caregivers.

Photography by Lien Foundation

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