the room of the future
Hospitals cater for pediatric patients’ with many different illnesses and circumstances, but they all do have one need in common: be as comfortable as possible, especially in the place where they (and their families) spend most of their time; their room.
On the other hand, for the multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, etc), their goal is to be able to be as attentive and efficient as possible with all the diversity of patients.
So, how might we design the pediatric room of the future (whether at a hospital or at home) to improve the overall experience of comfort, safety, and efficiency?
1. User experience: Patients and Families
Being hospitalized is a source of considerable concerns and fears: fear of being separated from family and friends; from school; having to stay in an unknown and unpleasant environment; undergoing medical procedures and treatments, and losing their self-determination. However, children also develop their own coping strategies: when taken out of their familiar environment, they adopt certain strategies to try and deal with losing control over their own situation: they do things to relax (taking a walk, watching television, play games, interact with their social media channels, etc) or surround themselves with personal and recognizable things to feel more at home.
The findings of a study conducted by "Design4Health" (link below) describe that the environment plays a role in providing a wider range of coping strategies, the more versatile the environment, the more opportunities patients have to deal with their situation. In fact, when asked, paediatric patients define a child-friendly hospital as one that supports continuing daily life. Several spatial aspects may contribute to this support:
Feeling more "like home": similar facilities and distractions, not too clean, cozy, colorful
Being able to personalize it
Having a view of life outside the hospital
Being connected with family, friends and schoolmates
It is also critical to think of family members’ roles as caregivers and emphasize spaces that allow families to continue familiar and comforting routines for a child, or perform that role from the distance.
Also, the addition of "positive distractions" and engagement elements that favor fun interaction between patients and caregivers, is a great element for creating happier memories and more carefree moments between families.
2. healthcare team
A child’s care doesn’t just rely on excellent physicians and nurses — it is also dependent on a wide team of healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses,, psychologists, social workers, teachers, respiratory therapists, child life specialists, nutritionists, etc.) — who are all dedicated to providing the comprehensive care that every child patient deserves.
In order to achieve converging the hospital routines, medical procedures and treatments into the closest home-feeling and warmth experience, pediatric healthcare professionals need to work and develop in a flexible, close and adaptable healthcare environment.
A quality space adjustable to their technical, manual and psychological needs — focused on providing work balance, security, reducing pressure and facilitating time/effort efficiency at the most.