Improve the experience of patients and parents at the PICU
To improve the stay of ill children and their parents at the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) I designed Sparkling Moments. It creates a moment of calmness in the chaotic PICU environment for parent and child together. By this, I hope to lower the chance to develop mental health problems related to the post-intensive care syndrome (PICS).
PICU and PICS
At the PICU, children are assigned in life-threatening ill conditions, and have to be monitored at all times. The parents of these children can visit the PICU whenever they want and are often next to their child during the day as often as they can. Based on my research, I found that the experience patients and parents have at the PICU can have such a large impact that there is a high chance on developing mental health problems after stay. In literature, these new or worse health problems that occur after a (P)ICU stay are called Post-intensive care Syndrome.
Being very ill or seeing your child being very ill of course has a large impact on child and parent and influences their PICU experience negatively. However, there are more factors that negatively influence the experience at the PICU and can increase the chance on developing PICS.
By performing a survey among +/- 300 parents of children who have been assigned to the PICU and by interviewing psychosocial professionals, I found risk factors for developing mental health problems such as the very chaotic environment, unfamiliar people and the presence of technical equipment.
With my design I wanted to decrease the risk factors that are likely to influence the chance on developing mental health problems related to PICS.
Combining literature with field research (e.g. with interviewing professionals and creative sessions with parents), the most important risk factors could be identified and formulated into a design goal:
“Empower parents to prepare and create a daily special moment together with their child. In such a way that parent and child feel close to each other, are confident in what they do, can be sure no unwanted interruptions will happen and are more comfortable about their separation during the night”
This goal is incorporated in a design called “Sparkling Moments”. This design uses projection in the room to change the environment and create a special moment for parent and child together. By adding different triggers during the day, parents are able to prepare this moment for their child by bringing objects and asking questions, increasing their feeling of confidence. Moreover, these triggers are bringing an aura of positivity to the normal intensive care situation. Furthermore, by being visible through the netting of the curtain, caregivers are made aware the moment is happening. This can make them wait a moment, ensuring patient and parents are not disturbed and perceive the moment as safe; nothing bad will happen at that time.
Prototyping and testing
A fully working prototype is made in order to test the design, using 3D-printing techniques.
Evaluating and testing of the design is done in two ways. First of all the creation of the moment was tested by incorporating it into the bed time moment of (healthy) children and their parents at home. Furthermore, the quality of the light and design was tested at the PICU and evaluated with psychosocial professionals, nurses and one parent and patient.
Currently I am working together with the Sophia Children’s hospital in Rotterdam to develop my design and to perform a long-time user test in which patient and parents will actually be able to use my design during their stay.
Graduation project (September 2018), in collaboration with the Sophia Children's hospital