Valuing the voices of children: a case study of involving children in the process of medical equipment design in the hospital environment
Paediatric hospital design is receiving growing attention internationally around the value of involving children (the users) in the process. Many studies demonstrate the value of involvement and consultation/collaboration with children, seeking their input in the design of their paediatric hospital environments. This should extend to furniture and equipment in the environment. However little evidence suggests children are involved in the design of either medical equipment or general products found in these environments. As a design student, I explored the feasibility of involving children alongside stakeholders in the design of medical equipment, through the design of Sprout IV Pole; an Intravenous Pole produced with the intention of positively impacting the hospital experience for children. Through an extensive process of consultation, Sprout IV Pole was trialled in hospital. While trialled, children alongside their parents and nurses were involved through a questionnaire to gain their feedback upon the design, to determine what value Sprout IV Pole offered in comparison to existing IV Poles. This process illustrated the complexity of involving/consulting children in hospital but also demonstrates the value their involvement holds to designing medical equipment. This case study concludes by offering advice to fellow design students and researchers aiming to design medical equipment, as well as hospital organisations to seek the involvement of children through the process if improving their healthcare environment, service and products.