Layout of the Practice

Maintain a well-planned and well-lit practice, with clear signs and the use of colour contrast in internal decoration, to enable disabled patients, particularly those with visual impairments or learning disabilities, to orientate themselves easily and move around safely in your practice.

Consider implementing the following options to optimise the layout and design of your practice for disabled patients:

  • Display easily visible signs that provide information that is simple, short and easy to read and is written in sentence case. Use symbols to supplement the text and a background that contrasts well with the text and symbols. Avoid using signs with glass in front of them
  • Use contrasting colours or dark and light shades of the same colour to distinguish floors, walls, ceilings and door-frames
  • Add safety markings or manifestations, where appropriate, to glazed panels
  • Provide additional lighting in potentially hazardous areas (e.g. stairwells or changes in level) and ensure that it does not result in shadows that conceal potentially hazardous objects
  • Adjust lights so they do not cause undue glare or reflections
  • Position the reception desk away from windows. Have part of the desk at a level where a wheelchair user can use to sign documents and speak to the receptionist face-to-face
  • To help those who lip-read, locate the reception desk where staff members will not be put in shadow by bright sunshine
  • Reposition the furniture in the waiting area so that there is space for a wheelchair user to sit beside a seated companion

If it is not possible to make reception desks fully accessible, change your working practices to accommodate patient needs.

Remove clutter to ensure there is adequate space for wheelchair users or users of other mobility aids to move easily and safely around the practice.

Remove hazards such as protruding features that patients might bump into.

To minimise tripping or slipping, avoid using poorly fitted mats, ensure there are no uneven or worn junctions on floor surfaces, and ensure cleaning and polishing does not make surfaces slippery.

Keep windows, lamps and blinds clean to maximise available light, and replace blown light bulbs immediately.

Encourage staff to offer assistance to patients if required (but do not assume all disabled patients will want assistance). NB: ensure staff are covered by public liability insurance.