Today’s post is the second part of the tretralogy: Designing the ICU.

Designing the ICU is formed by three important pillars: professionals, patients, and family members. I have raised all these same questions to meet the needs of each one of the pillars that make up this project.

Today is the turn to the patient. We have asked their collaboration to José Luis Díaz ex-ICU patient, whom many of you already know as the protagonist and author of Return to tell the story and After overcoming an infarction.

José Luis answers our questionnaire to continue developing the needs plan. These are his 

What are the needs for assure the confort of the patient and at the same time the ICU professionals could develop well their work? Do we need to start a new distribution by removing boxes and considering individual rooms?

I think that it would be necessary to make compatible to that patients had a greater intimacy and that medical personnel had a good view of the patients.

This could be achieved with an architectural design suitable, but it could be costly. So another possibility is the implementation of technological devices which make possible the continuous vision of patients.

Currently, a Web camera and a remote control to operate it, offer endless possibilities with a very low cost.

What are the needs for ICU patients to have a more comfortable stay?

The answer is not easy, because in the ICU there are patients in very different physical and emotional situations. For this reason, the incorporation of certain elements, which could make the stay of the patients easier, should be able to manage independently in each of the rooms, to avoid that for certain patients might be highly satisfactory, for others it might be a further setback.

What are the needs for families?

If we assume an “open door” approach, you should also think of families, incorporating the necessary elements to make their stays more bearable.

In this sense you should distinguish the measures to be taken in the room of patients and which should take in the spaces out of them.

In the first it´s necessary a seat more comfortable and ergonomic as possible for families and a toilet. The toilet and the technological elements that might accommodate (mobile, Tablet, laptop, etc.), could be indistinct used by patients and guests.

On the contrary, in the spaces out of the ICU, it could perhaps be opportune compartmentalize, to some extent, waiting rooms, for that family members, occasionally emotionally very affected, may have a certain intimacy, when they need to share their fears and their hopes.

In our design studio, we believe that it is very important to create a space in which the patient feel at home, as you said before, in a “family” space because it would affect the speedy recovery of the patient. We believe that it is feasible and it would not be a huge economic cost, elements such as decorative lamps may be used to add a cozy element, use touches of colors that convey energy and positivity, there are many possibilities. What is your opinion about an aesthetic change?

To create a space close to the patient seems me a difficult challenge taking into account that each person/patient is a world and the plurality and diversity of environments could be almost infinite, which would force to dispose of a wide range of ornamental and decorative elements. However, elements capable of breaking with the traditional image of a hospital setting should be introduced. For example, do the costumes of the health workers must necessarily be green, blue, pink or white and always smooth? Is it not possible to generalise the introduction of colors and patterns? The same may apply in the furniture and the walls of the rooms.

In addition to the aesthetic change, do you think that it is necessary to introduce more elements that may help the tranquility and relaxation of the patient as piped music or being able to adjust the intensity of light so that patients could also have this awareness of day and night?

In my opinion, any element enabling individualized management of the environment is positive for the patient .

Minimize disorientation of ICU patients must constitute a target by itself. Incorporate media and behavior guidelines aimed to ensure maximum comfort should be a priority.

The ICU patients, rest when we could, not when we want to and it should be a priority: to avoid the hospital routine to interfere in the few moments that the patient gets to rest. For example, you should end with the ingrained habit of turn on all the lights and wake up to the patient to give a soothing because, if you’re sleeping, probably you don’t need it.

If it is essential to provide medication at night, it would be advisable to do so with a courtesy light, rather than turn on a light, with six fluorescent tubes, located on the vertical of the patient, and would also be desirable, momentarily interrupt the conversation with the partner’s turn to leave the vicinity of the patient who is resting.

After this questionnaire, I can only thank José Luis Díaz his collaboration, without doubt his answers are helpful. A luxury to be able to conduct this interview.

Best regards!