CHAPTER THREE: CONCLUTIONS
3.1 There was a high level of experience of hospitals as either a visitor or a patient. Thirty seven percent of the sample had spent at least one night as an in-patient in hospital in the past five years and 76% had visited someone staying in hospital in the past five years. Fewer respondents (9%) worked in or visited a hospital in the course of their work. Thus, the majority of the sample had some recent experience of hospital accommodation which would inform their responses to the survey.
3.2 This knowledge was reflected in responses when respondents were asked which type of accommodation was most common. The majority of respondents (60%) said that a smaller multi-bedded ward was the most common type, consistent with their greater experience of this type of accommodation. However, despite the fact that people had more experience of staying in and visiting single rooms compared with large multi-bedded wards, they did not believe that single rooms were more common. Thirty two percent of respondents thought that large multi-bedded wards were most common, while very few respondents thought that single rooms were the most common type of accommodation (5%).
3.3 When respondents were asked what type of accommodation they would prefer to stay in, the most common answer was a single room (41%) followed by a multi-bedded ward of up to six people (22%) and a large ward of more than six people (3%). It is important to note that those who expressed a preference for single room accommodation nevertheless represent less than half the sample. A further 27% said that they did not mind what sort of accommodation they stayed in, though their subsequent responses resembled those who preferred multi-bedded wards. Six percent of the sample said that their accommodation preference would depend on various factors, most commonly on what type of illness they were admitted with.
3.4 Preference was mediated by social class with the percentage of those expressing a preference for single room accommodation increasing with social grade (30% of those in the DE group would prefer this type of accommodation compared to 36% of C2s, 41% of C1s and 58% of ABs). ABC1s were much less likely to want to stay in a multi-bedded ward of up to six people. Less than one in five respondents in these groups preferred this type of accommodation compared with over one quarter of C2DEs.
3.5 Age also had some effect on preference, with those aged 34 and below being more likely to express a preference for staying in a single room and those aged 55 and above being more likely to express a preference for staying in a multi-bedded room.
3.6 Experience of staying in or visiting different types of hospital accommodation did not appear to have a large effect on what type of accommodation people would prefer to stay in. However, we must assume that these preferences are, in most cases, determined by people's experience of hospital accommodation overall.
3.7 The most common reason given for preferring to stay in a single room was having or enjoying privacy (mentioned by 79% of those who expressed this preference). Of those who wished to stay in multi-bedded accommodation, having company or someone to talk to was the most important reason (mentioned by 81%).
3.8 In some ways opposite advantages and disadvantages exist for single and multi-occupancy accommodation and it may be hard to find a balance between these. The two main advantages of staying in a single room were considered to be having more privacy (mentioned by 75% of the sample) and less noise (34%). People thought that the main disadvantage would be feeling isolated or having less company (69%). The main perceived advantage of multi-bedded accommodation was having more company or not feeling isolated (78%). Two main disadvantages were mentioned: having less or no privacy (56%) or greater noise (46%).
3.9 The main factor in determining respondents' opinions of the advantages and disadvantages of single and multiple occupancy accommodation was the type of accommodation they would personally prefer to stay in. Those who would prefer to stay in a single room saw greater advantages in this type of accommodation and greater disadvantages in multi-bedded accommodation. The opposite was true of those who expressed a preference for staying in a multi-bedded ward. Preference, as mentioned previously, was in turn linked to social class and age and as a result may change as an individual's circumstances change.
3.10 As previously mentioned, those who said they did not mind what sort of accommodation they stayed in had a tendency to respond in a similar way to those who would prefer to stay in multi-bedded ward. We would speculate that this pattern could be connected to the fact that, as people believe multi-bedded wards to be the most common type of hospital accommodation, they expect to be accommodated in this type of ward and they therefore look for advantages and disadvantages that complement their expectations.
3.11 Despite the fact that the most commonly preferred type of accommodation was a single room (a preference expressed by 41% of the sample), there appeared to be acceptance of the fact that not everybody could stay in this type of accommodation, with only 11% of the sample saying that everyone should stay in single room accommodation. In comparison, 26% of respondents thought that everyone should stay in a multi-bedded ward. There were very few demographic differences related to this question, although those aged 65 and over were slightly more likely to think that everyone should stay in a multi-bedded ward (31%).
3.12 At first glance, there appeared to be little agreement overall on what sort of people should stay in single or multiple occupancy accommodation, suggesting that, in general, people have not given much consideration to this issue or do not have strong feelings about this topic. On closer inspection, severity of illness seems to be the criteria that people most commonly use in making a judgement about the type of accommodation that a person should stay in, with respondents tending to say that those who are more seriously ill should stay in a single room. This could also reflect a public perception of what actually does happen in hospitals today, rather than necessarily what they think should be the case.
3.13 In terms of single room accommodation, 57% thought that those who were seriously ill should stay in a single room, 27% mentioned that those who were dying, 24% mentioned those with an infectious disease and 18% said that people in intensive care should stay in a single room. In terms of multiple occupancy accommodation, 27% of the sample thought that those who were in hospital for a routine procedure should stay in this type of accommodation, 15% mentioned children and 12% thought that teenagers and young adults should stay in multiple occupancy accommodation.