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Design a Pediatric Friendly Practice

Copyright 2007-2008 Davlen Associates, Ltd

by Glen David

Two Paths to Take

The design of a pediatric Chiropractic practice can take two different paths. They essentially revolve around the results that you are looking to create.

1. Child friendly for the convenience of the parent.

2. Child friendly to create an environment promoting the health benefits children under Chiropractic care.

The first has design elements designed that entertain the children while the parent gets adjusted. While better than nothing, it does nothing to promote pediatric Chiropractic wellness and usually places a huge burden on your staff. The second revolves around creating a Child friendly environment that promotes pediatric Chiropractic wellness. Whichever path you choose, here are some of the design elements that you should consider

  • Location, Location, Location

Having a children's play area in the reception room should welcome kids to your practice and help them feel safe. Proper design creates a place for children to congregate on their own. It should be decorated to advise parents that your clinic is a "child friendly “environment. It should also be the first hint that there are numerous benefits to having children under Chiropractic care. Remember, it"s never too early to educate patients.

  • Who’s the Babysitter?

Position the children’s play area so your staff does not have to baby sit the children. Keep them away from the front door. Most children can be out of the door and half way down the block before the typical CA can begin the chase.

  • Colors

Decorate this area with primary colors, child level artwork and utilize safe, fun familiar toys to keep their attentions. Remember that younger children love to put things in their mouth. Limit toys to those that are easily washable. Instead of building elaborate, interesting, or unique play areas, go to the basics. Furnish this area with a play desk from Liltykes or playschool. Children of all ages know that this is their space.

  • Open or Enclosed Room

While creating a private, soundproof or even a padded type room for children sounds like a great idea, but it can actually work against your primary purpose for having one in the first place. Creating a private area gives the children a “free for all” feeling. It also gives the parents a false sense of freedom, a sense that they do not have to watch over their own children, a sense that the staff will watch the children. All of these are exactly opposite of the primary intention.

Half walls surrounding the play area are best. This area can typically be as small as 5 x 5 but should be just over 6’ if room allows. Avoid sharp corners, use round instead of sharp “corner bead” to finish the corners of the drywall in this area. DO NOT place any electrical outlets in or near this area. Typical wall height should be 42” tall

  • HIPPA Compliance.

Be cautious about adding a “tree of life” that displays pictures of the children that you adjust, as it crosses most HIPPA compliance laws. It is important however, to visually explain the importance of having children checked. Ensure that your pediatric patient educational brochures are situated for simple distribution to all patients early in their Chiropractic experience.

  • Entertainment

Keep the children’s area interesting, but not entertaining. The primary purpose is to prevent children from loosing their attention span before you have the chance to “check or adjust” them.

  • Video Entertainment

Sounds like a great concept, however you should design an area that trains young minds for the behavior you want. Think about the message you are sending to a young impressionable mind when you entice them to the practice by playing the latest hot video only to have to tear them away to get adjusted just as they get interested.

  • Duration of Stay

Create the play area and placement to MINIMIZE the amount of time one will spend. All too often are kids play areas are so much fun that they actually extend the typical visit by as much as 10-15%. This is not in anyone’s best interest.

Semi open adjusting areas are the perfect location for a children’s play area. Their parents are right there to control them. You have them right where you need them to make it easy to get them checked. An added benefit is that your Front Desk CA does not have to baby sit them.

Their may be a fear of having a play area too close to the adjusting tables. The only time this is a problem is when the doctor has no control over his facility. At no time is it ok for children or adults to turn your adjusting area into a social event. All parts of a Chiropractic office are areas of healing and knowledge. As a matter of fact, there is nothing more exciting than having a hot seat area of 15-20 patients watch as you adjust a new born baby for the first time. You will be able to hear a pin drop.

If you practice in a closed room environment, acclimate your young patients to the fun aspect of Chiropractic and do not alienate them with mixed messages. By letting children experience the sights and sounds of the adjusting environment as much as possible before you actually adjust them will minimize scaring them. A family room is a perfect solution for this. Simply adding 2 feet to the width of any standard adjusting room will allow you to add a “sub waiting room” within the adjusting room. This can be as easy as building a 6-8 foot bench that can hold the entire family. Install this bench on the same wall as the door opens onto. By doing so, the entire family can attend and experience the adjustment. The bench concept will let the children snuggle to the safety of the parent to ease this transitional period. Having the entire family go to the family room during anyone’s adjustment clears the reception room to accept more patients. It also gives you the best opportunity to check the children and get them adjusted.

While providing enough space to add a child sized “Dino or Pony” style table, current trends lead toward acclimating children to the full sized table that they will be using for the rest of their lives. There is nothing worse than having to wean a young patient off one table as they grow. Unless you have numerous rooms with kids tables, you will severely restrict the patient flow when more than one family arrives at your practice at the same time.

  • Design with Child Safety in Mind

Safety disconnect switches that disable any powered tables should be placed out of reach. Since most children can reach a switch in the standard location, place these at least 6 feet above the floor.

Avoid trailing power cords from a table in the center of the room across the floor to the wall outlet. Install floor outlets directly under the table or use high quality “thresholds” to safely hide this potential tripping hazard.

Child proof your outlets, cabinets, etc with standard household safety devices just as you would do in any household. Be sure to child proof Hydroculators by fastening them to the wall and hiding the power cords.

Designing a child friendly facility will help you create a fun, healing environment for young patients. After all, well adjusted children are our future of health.