Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Cancer care / Quality improvement

European Healthcare Design 2022

Around the kitchen table with Maggie’s: Valuing our workforce and carers through design

By SALUS User Experience Team 27 Oct 2022 0

Maggie’s centres are designed to a considered and demanding architectural brief. Every architect and designer embraces this brief – a blueprint first created 25 years ago by its founder, Maggie Keswick Jencks. Through the design process, the charity ensures its environments cater to the needs of all its users, including people living with cancer, carers, NHS colleagues, visitors, and professional staff.


The architecture, unlike traditional hospital settings, is non-prescriptive and designed to feel welcoming for all visitors. There are opportunities for gathering around a shared space at the kitchen table, secluded rooms for private conversations, large spaces for group activities, and settings for contemplation that often give a view of the garden or outside world. All of these elements ensure Maggie’s staff can provide the professional support and care visitors need.

For friends and family, the centres often start as a place to simply wait with a hot drink while the person with cancer visits the hospital. However, once inside, the setting opens them up to conversations with staff or other visitors which, in turn, can help them find the support they often didn’t know they needed themselves.

Maggie’s centres also assist staff to create conversations, often accelerating the discussion of psychological issues. The informal setting means that staff can wait for a person to become at ease in the environment before approaching them and assessing their needs.

Hospitals are larger and much more complex settings. But what lessons can hospitals learn from Maggie’s? What is the role of the environment and architecture in supporting and valuing healthcare staff? And what are the universal design principles applied in Maggie’s centres that can help humanise our hospitals through design?