Human pressure on a modern healthcare environment.
Hospital wheelchairs have to be highly robust and intuitive to use. Historically the wheelchair has been thought of as a simple functional piece of equipment, with design thinking as secondary and a nice to have. With a changing healthcare environment Oliver questioned whether the current offering meets the design brief of a modern generation.
Observing the techniques used to transfer patients from the wheelchair to the bed highlighted the opportunity for designing an integrated foot rest and turntable. This single stage procedure would reduce the movement required by the patient and reduce excessive manual handling for hospital staff.
A driving factor for the design of any healthcare product alongside ease of use is ease of cleaning. A bacterial outbreak at the time of the study highlighted the infrequency with which these devices were cleaned. Many patients are exposed to the product between cleaning cycles, potentially providing an effective means of 'transporting' infection throughout the hospital.
Human Centered Design techniques were used to define a solution, the balance between the desirable and the feasible. Existing hand-held steam cleaning was found to be time-consuming and inefficient, as a result it was performed infrequently.
The design delivery was an evolutionary integrated system where the cleaning station and the wheelchair were embodied as one. The creation of a portable steam cleaning station accessible by hospital staff on a ‘passing by’ basis.