Communicating a Healing Environment: From a Clinical to a Graphical Stroke Ward Experience
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The physical environment of a hospital caters to the technological advancements in medicine, focused on curing illness rather than supporting the wellbeing of people. This project explored how graphic design might be used in a healthcare environment to improve the experience of healthcare professionals, patients, and their families on a stroke ward. After a stroke, many people experience mental and physical impairments. This affects their ability to move and communicate as well as impacts how people respond to their surrounding environment. Being placed in the environment of a stroke ward can heighten the anxieties already faced after experiencing a stroke. In this research, healthcare professionals working in North Shore Hospital’s acute stroke ward were involved in the design process. Through methods used in action research and human-centered design, staff were able to share information around the inpatient experience and the challenges they face when aiding the recovery of patients in a stroke ward environment. Observations and expert interviews with staff revealed areas on the stroke ward that may be activated through graphic design to create a positive healthcare experience. Although the participation of healthcare professionals supported the development of designed solutions throughout this research it also revealed the challenges many designers face when working in healthcare. The time restrictions of staff meant they were unable to fully participate in all stages of the design process. This may have affected the outcome of my project when considering the needs of stroke patients and their families. Through installing designed prototypes in the stroke ward, it was revealed that not only can graphic design influence the experience in this space but the behaviour of staff. This highlighted the importance graphic design has in a healthcare environment when not only creating a positive experience but facilitating connections in this space. The final output of this project incorporated ideas of holistic healing when supporting those recovering from a stroke, bringing nature into the stroke ward environment through designed installations. These designed installations revealed the ability graphic design has when transforming a clinical space into an environment that has the ability to aid the recovery of stroke patients.