Light plays a key role in healthcare, from reliable diagnostics to rapid recovery. Precise standard specifications for lighting different areas must be harmonised with a pleasant feeling of space. An ideal lighting concept for hospitals is flexible, energy-saving, and focuses on people's needs.
There are waiting areas, examination and patient rooms, recreation rooms, and staff workplaces in hospitals. It is therefore important to consider and plan each area separately to meet the respective requirements.
The lighting mood greatly influences patient recovery. In bright, open rooms with natural light colours, the body can recover and regenerate better. Indirect light is particularly pleasant, as it makes the room appear larger. Since people in patient rooms spend a lot of time in bed, the lighting needs to be adapted to this position. The positioning and optical coverage of luminaires prevents bedridden patients being dazzled by room light.
Small reading lights are mandatory for each hospital bed, which must reach at least 300 lux at the reading position. The light emission direction prevents patients in neighbouring beds from being disturbed. Orientation light and night lighting are particularly important since patients are in an unfamiliar environment. They help patients navigate while also providing caregivers with sufficient light for routine checks. For nursing procedures, illuminance should be at least 300 lux at the examination level. To best support recovery, lighting should be synchronised with the patient's internal clock. This requires sufficient illuminance to reach the patient's eye. Different light colours and illuminance levels create a special, biologically effective light pattern, based on the dynamics of daylight outdoors. As a result, the patients’ physiological performance curve follows its natural rhythm, despite staying in the room all day. This improves awareness activity, enhances memory, and stabilises the day/night rhythm. Especially after a period of artificial deep sleep or a coma, patients can find their way back into their natural circadian rhythm more quickly and regenerate both physically and psychologically. DIN SPEC 67600 recommends a cylindrical illuminance of ≥ 250 MEDI lux for at least four hours during the mornings at the head position of a 32-year-old patient.
The lighting in a patient's room must meet many requirements. We selected two RECOVER PRO units of 1350 mm length in this example. The minimum requirements of the lighting standard are only sufficient to fulfil the visual task in question. Since the biological light effect especially contributes to patients' healing success, significantly higher illuminance levels are available at the patient's eye in this example.
Light combines two essential aspects in the examination and treatment room. A warm, friendly atmosphere helps patients feel calm and safe and relax during treatment. Physicians, meanwhile, need sufficient brightness and a high quality of light during treatment. According to EN 12464-1, a general illuminance of 500 lux and an examination illuminance of 1000 lux must be achieved. The right lighting in the examination room, combined with homely and clearly designed furnishings, form the basis for this.
Ceiling luminaires with a combination of direct and indirect light are suitable for general lighting. Indirect lighting is pleasant and relaxing as it makes the room appear larger. Direct lighting around the examination couch ensures optimal lighting conditions. However, care must be taken not to dazzle a patient looking at the ceiling. EN 12464-1 standard specifications of 1000 lux with a uniformity of U0 ≥ 0.7 and a colour rendering value of Ra ≥ 90 apply. The high colour fidelity enables physicians to differentiate the finest colour nuances on a patient's skin. XAL's new full-spectrum LEDs offer an excellent colour rendering of Ra 97, with almost natural-frequency wavelengths. As in daylight, there is a lot of light blue radiation which adapts the pupil size as it would in nature. This protects the eyes during strenuous visual tasks. The lighting in the examination room should not create glare or reflection points on computer screens. The correct positioning of the luminaires is therefore crucial. If they are not mounted centrally above the workstation but to the left and right of it, they ensure good visibility without distracting reflections.
Corridors and staircases are the main circulation routes in a hospital. Patients, visitors, and staff should be able to navigate quickly and safely. They also make a significant contribution to the first impression people form of the hospital. Bright, professional lighting is crucial for this. During the day, illuminance levels of at least 200 lux (according to EN 12464-1) must be achieved; operating theatre wing corridors even require ≥ 300 lux. When planning ceiling lighting, it is important to bear in mind that patients are often transported while lying down. A high indirect component prevents glare by reducing the contrast between the ceiling and the light emission surface.
Vertical illumination, or brightening of the walls, is another option as it visually enlarges the room. In high-ceilinged rooms, large suspended luminaires with direct/indirect light components are a good choice for pleasant illumination. The biological standard specifications for the lighting of hospital corridors and staircases are set out in DIN SPEC 67600. During the day, a melanopic and day-equivalent illuminance of ≥ 250 MEDI lux is recommended. This corresponds to about 370 lux at head position for a 32-year-old observer. For older persons, significantly higher cylindrical illuminance levels are necessary for a biological effect. To correspond to the natural hormone release of the human organism, cool white light colours up to 5700 K are well suited in the morning, while very warm white colour temperatures of ≥ 2700 K should predominate at night. Since corridors and staircases in the hospital are used around the clock, they are also illuminated at night. To save energy, the light intensity may be dimmed down to 50 lux at night. An automatic light control system dynamically adjusts the brightness to the time of day. Special sensor-controlled luminaires can be easily programmed and create dynamic, natural lighting conditions that also reduce energy consumption.
Colour changes, varying brightness, and indirect lighting in the room help patients in hospital recreation rooms enjoy a feeling of security and make the ambience more cosy and less clinical. These zones provide respite from the hospital bed and allow visitors to be received away from the patients’ rooms. The more comfortable the atmosphere in the recreation room, the more positive its effect on well-being and recovery. A cosy and homely lighting atmosphere is created by a high proportion of indirect light. The better the ceiling is illuminated, the more pleasant the room feels. Wallwashers also create a protected, intimate sense of space.
For patients who have little or no outdoor exposure during their hospital stay, the light dose is insufficient to keep their internal clock set. This can be prevented by circadian light sequences. They adjust the illuminance and colour temperature to the level required to create a natural hormone and performance curve. 5000 – 10000 lux/h per day vertically at head level is considered a reference value for an adequate supply of light. As a result, patients fall asleep more easily and regeneration during sleep is improved, as though under natural conditions with sufficient exposure to daylight. Besides patients, doctors and care staff often spend long periods in the hospital. The use of luminaires with higher colour rendering can positively support visual performance and prevent fatigue. XAL's full-spectrum LEDs use a natural composition of wavelengths, reducing the short-wave radiation impacting the retina. They are therefore gentler on the eyes, even at the same luminous intensity and the same colour variance. Their excellent colour rendition also helps display objects in the recreation room clearly and with extreme colour fidelity. This creates a lively environment, lifts the spirits, and thus supports the healing process.
A recreation room's lighting must meet many requirements. Since care home residents usually spend a lot of time in the recreation room, we selected an Human Centric Lighting design in this example. HCL meets both the minimum requirements for the respective visual task and also fulfils biological needs, in our case those of 75-year-old residents.
The hospital's 24-hour nurses’ station is the contact point for patients around the clock. This is where medication is stored and dispensed, and office work performed. The lighting at the 24-hour nurses’ station must reconcile partly suboptimal spatial conditions with long shifts and high traffic. Boosting its central accessibility, the round-the-clock station is often located deep inside the building. This results in minimal natural daylight. Since employees work here for long periods, the artificial lighting must provide a healthy supply of light similar to daylight.
Generously dimensioned indirect lighting with dynamic light colour curves helps with daytime orientation. EN 12464-1 stipulates that ceiling illuminance should be just 50 lux. Paired with square LED panels, the high luminance contrast creates an almost oppressive spatial impression. In comparison, round or ring-shaped luminaires with a large indirect light component and an illuminance of between 500 and 1000 lux create an open, friendly impression. This both creates a more comfortable environment for staff and patients, and the 24-hour station suggests a sense of security – essential factors in stressful or tense situations. In some areas of activity, higher illuminance may be appropriate in places. For example, doctors and carers can read the package inserts for medicine or information on medical utensils better and provide information more quickly. The lighting should be glare-free and reflection-free at the computer workstations in the 24-hour nurses’ station. To eliminate reflected glare, luminaires are not positioned above the field of vision but to the left and right of the workstation. The degree of direct glare is described by the UGR value, which is a maximum of 19 in the office area. This is where the use of high-quality office luminaires pays off. They ensure pleasant and healthy working conditions at a particularly challenging hub in the hospital.
The lighting of a 24-hour nurses’ station must meet many requirements. This area must be suitable for office work as well as for communicative exchange. Furthermore, the night-time lighting situation must be set. Therefore, we selected an Human Centric Lighting design for this example. HCL meets both the minimum requirements for the respective visual task and also fulfils biological needs, in our case those of 50-year-old carers.
The registration area is the first point of contact for patients and visitors to the hospital. It should be inviting while also serving an orientation function. For this purpose, it is advisable to work with higher illuminance levels above the reception counter. This creates a visual separation between the registration desk and the waiting area and creates an atmosphere of trust.
Especially in situations of stress or pain, a clearly illuminated face can convey a sense of security to patients. The correct illumination for this is specified in EN 12464-1 by means of a modelling factor. At head height, the ratio between cylindrical and horizontal illuminance should be between 0.3 and 0.6. For a standing position in the registration area, this ratio should be achieved at around 1.6 m; in the waiting area, where people are usually seated, this height is 1.2 m. The best visual conditions are important for employees in the registration area. A well-lit and glare-free work area supports concentration and performance and counteracts fatigue. One often feels tension and nervousness in the waiting room. Here, lighting can have a calming effect on patients and create a relaxing ambience. Wall or ceiling lights with warm white light create a pleasant atmosphere. Floor luminaires or ring luminaires with soft light distribution also create a homely character. If the light is to change dynamically with the time of day, Tunable White luminaires are the solution; their light colour changes in line with daylight, creating a pleasant lighting atmosphere. Since patients and caregivers spend most of the day indoors, synchronising their internal clock is all the more important. This increases well-being, raises the performance level, and improves sleep quality.
The rehabilitation phase in a therapy centre follows an often long and arduous history of illness. A rehabilitation centre's mission is to stabilise patients through specialised therapies, accelerate their recovery, and teach new strategies for dealing with pain or impairment. In addition, patients are prepared to return to work or to independent living. In this phase, the feel-good factor and relaxation are particularly important. A harmonious environment has a significant influence on recovery; the quality of the lighting in the rehabilitation centre is crucial to this.
A balanced mix of room and accent lighting in therapy rooms creates a pleasant atmosphere in which patients feel safe and secure. Luminaires with high colour rendering values are suitable for this stimulation at the sensory and emotional level because they present the surroundings in a more vivid and three-dimensional way. Ideally, the basic brightness in the room is achieved by indirect lighting, e.g., via illuminated walls or ceiling surfaces. Additional direct lighting increases the plasticity of the room and facilitates orientation. Spotlights can set light accents on the wall, guide the eye, and provide visual variety. There are separate specifications for treatment and therapy rooms in the physical, radiological, and electromedical fields. An illuminance of at least 300 lux with a colour rendering index of Ra 80 must be achieved in the treatment room. To be able to precisely assess the condition of a patient, the even higher colour rendering of full-spectrum LEDs is recommended. They offer excellent colour fidelity of Ra 98. Dynamic light has an additional beneficial effect on rehabilitation. High day-dependent illuminance levels, based on the natural daylight progression, support the human circadian rhythm, and thus contribute to a patient's more rapid recovery. Tunable White luminaires are used for this purpose, with a colour temperature of up to 5700 K during the day. In the evening, warm white light colours from 2700 K are suitable for inducing relaxation, preparing the organism for rest, and improving patients' sleep in the rehabilitation centre.