Atmospheres of care in a psychiatric inpatient unit

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In this article we directly address the question of atmosphere in a psychiatric inpatient unit, focussing on the particular role that forms of care delivered ‘on the move’ play in shaping that atmosphere. Our approach, based in sensory
ethnography, foregrounds the perspective of the staff who work in this environment, showing how they enact care via mobile, sensory and spatial expertize. In particular, we focus on the role of anticipation and movement in how people apprehend and try to shape the atmosphere of hospital wards. We argue that this points towards the need for a shift in our thinking about designing environments of care, one that accounts for the contingent atmospheres that so often characterize them. This also offers a way forward for designers to allow people in the wards to ongoingly constitute atmospheres of care in these distinctive surroundings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalDesign for Health
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • hospital design
  • care
  • atmosphere
  • anticipation
  • mental health
  • movement

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