Dignified Spaces

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Should bad or uncertain news be given in a manner which lacks sensitivity and/or is in an environment which is inappropriate, it is likely to cause additional stress to all involved

(Davies, 2002)

As the New South Glasgow Hospital nears completion, we take a brief look at the ‘Dignified Spaces’ project which has been in development over the last few years, to understand the thinking behind their approach to quiet spaces.

Creating Biophilic Art
Quiet rooms within hospitals are not a new concept. Having been used for some time as rooms for reflection and prayer, the effect that this type of quiet room can have on a patient has been observed as a calm and peaceful place to be. With this outcome in mind, quiet rooms are slowly being introduced throughout hospitals, as a better place to break difficult news to patients and their families.

According to a study conducted by the ‘Informing Families Project’, receiving bad news in the wrong setting can in some cases, create a negative bond between the patient and doctor, which can adversely affect their relationship. As this has potential to make the next stages of treatment difficult, it is believed that the introduction of a less institutional environment such as a quiet room could reduce that negative bond. Additionally by removing the familiar hospital surroundings and replacing them with a neutral zone, this should theoretically lessen the impact created upon this relationship.

Public arts agency Ginko Projects were commissioned to undertake the leading arts role for this project, and wrote a brief detailing five outcomes which were essential to its success.

  • Develop artworks and design input that contributes towards a sense of dignity, particularly within highly stressed areas of the hospital.
  • Create distinct identities for these dignified spaces within the hospitals contributing to Patient Dignity and de-institutionalisation.
  • Bring the wider landscape into the building.
  • Create links between external and internal environments
  • Contribute to the quality of the healthcare environment through excellent design.

Creating Biophilic Art

Ginko projects then appointed a ‘Dignified Spaces Team’, consisting of an author, poet, interior designers, several artists and a medicinal herbalist to ensure the outcomes were met. With the importance of connecting the project to nature, the team took inspiration from Biophilic Design to ensure that connection was fully explored.

The team arranged a series of community workshops, activities and conducted clinical conversations with staff from the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (NHSGGC) and Volunteers from the wider community. Held within the Hidden Gardens in Glasgow, the theme ‘Walled Gardens’ was established, with further development taking place through various green spaces accross the city. Working with a medical herbalist, the volunteers collected plants and flowers they found interesting and recorded their findings using photosensitive paper. The ‘Dignified Spaces Team’ then further developed the recorded images using photo editing software and created the final designs ranging from soft furnishings, to photo collages all exploring the different aspects of Biopilic design.

Creating Biophilic Art

As the completion date for the New South Glasgow Hospitals is not due until mid 2015, it is too early to assess the success of the ‘Dignified Spaces’ project, or whether the nature themed designs have helped defeat the negative association created when a patient receives difficult news. What is interesting is the scale of the project, combined with the level of research and community involvement that has been undertaken to ensure it is as successful as possible, as this type of quiet room is becoming more common within hospitals usually through the conversion of a previously underused room. The commissioning of eighty quiet rooms from the outset of the development, shows the extent to which patient care is considered, something alone which should be commended.

For further information on the project, please follow the links below.

Dignified Spaces Project – http://designingfordignity.co.uk/Community-Engagement

Ginko Projects Arts Company – http://www.ginkgoprojects.co.uk/profile

Informing Families Project – http://fedvol.ie/Informing_Families_Project/Default.1642.html

The Hidden Gardens – http://thehiddengardens.org.uk/

Biophilia – http://www.biourbanism.org/biophilia/

14 Patterns in Biophilic Design – http://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/

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