Cardboard hospital does not make patients passive
A cardboard hospital was constructed at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture in order to develop patient-centred health care.
"This is a space that can easily be modified, and many ideas can be developed and tested in practice here," says researcher Juha Kronqvist from the Department of Media as he stands amid the cardboard set.
A few minutes earlier, the set has been used as a design workshop by the patients and staff of the Tampere University Hospital. The participants pondered on questions such as how patients could be distracted so that they would not dwell on their diseases and how hospitals could be turned into environments that would not make patients so passive.
Transferable walls, changing meanings
In the cardboard hospital, the doorframes, walls and screens made according to the measurements of the real hospital can be moved and different meanings can be assigned to the same pieces of cardboard. A white cardboard box can be a television or a coffee machine depending on the situation.
“The patients were very motivated to carry out a project like this because they are not usually heard when hospitals are being planned. Letting the patients participate in the planning process was also an eye-opening experience for the staff members. Staff members and patients see the hospital environment very differently.”
Putting an end to talking about ailments
According to Heini Kervinen, one of the students of design for theatre, film and television who participated in the planning of the cardboard hospital project, patients want hospital spaces that enable human contact. During the workshop, the participants came up with ideas such as art exhibitions and homelike features so that there would be something else to think about than diseases.
Kronqvist points out that patients could also discuss other matters than their ailments.
“The discussions patients have in hospitals often consist of listing all the ailments they have. However, if they were to meet each other in spaces containing, say, clown statues, they would talk about the statues instead of their ailments.
Another aim of the workshop was to take the activity of patients into consideration during planning.
"Hospital structures usually support making patients passive. If a patient goes on a walk the staff will have problems because hospitals are not designed for walking."
"Kiss and ride"
The participants of the cardboard hospital project also discussed what emotionally intelligent communication between patients and hospital staff could be like.
"We talked about how the language used in hospitals could be changed," Kronqvist explains and presents a photograph of a sign at a Belgian airport with the words "Kiss and ride" on it. The sign is at a point where passengers brought to the airport by friends or family can quickly be let out of the car.
Telling people to be quick does not have to be done in an unfriendly manner. The language and signs used in hospitals could also include humour.
The cardboard hospital collaboration project was carried out as part of the TULE – Safe and Smooth Surgical Services project organised by the Pirkanmaa Hospital District and the Aalto University Department of Media and Department of Motion Picture, Television and Production Design. The project is funded by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and Aalto Service Factory.
Text: Tea Kalska
Visit the project blog for more information:
juha.kronqvist [at] aalto [dot] fi