design for need project in collaboration with Sara Lança, 2009
also part of design for healthcare workshop with fuelfor
2-day experience design workshop as part of the Focus Module of the MA Design course at Kingston University. We were asked to conduct design research and explore opportunities for new solutions in the neonatal intensive care unit (nicu) environment. The module is an interdisciplinary, project-based practice that introduces design students to a needs-based approach to design thinking and concept development.
We are committed to making the lives of parents with premature babies less traumatic and more tolerable, making it a far less stressful experience.
We drew insights on what they want and what they need throughout the whole episode and translated that into ideas and concepts that will make parents more assured and comfortable with the situation.
We explored and exposed the raw materials in the nicu space with observations, investigation, and experiments. Those took the form of drawings, pictures, icons, mappings, and audio.
We identified the key challenges, joys, and needs of the stakeholders of a family with a child in the neonatal unit.
We developed concepts that are associated to information, live contact, and connection. We are putting forward proposals related to the ‘Live’ concept connecting the parents to their child in a neonatal intensive care unit (nicu):
Parents with a child in the nicu find it hard to manage two lives. Not only to they have minimal physical connection to the preemie, but they also have to go back home and face the fact that someone else is taking care of their baby.
Wouldn’t it be nice if they could receive regular updates and reports from the hospital? Parents find it hard to fall asleep at night not knowing how their preemie is coping. Wouldn’t it be nice if they always know if their baby is sleeping or awake, his developments, and whether he is eating well? In order to bridge this connection between parents at home and preemie at the hospital, we created a ‘robot’ that has signals (light and a monitor screen) that is placed at home, but is triggered by the nurse from the Patient Records Monitor.
The Patient Records Monitor stores all the info and records about the baby. It includes information on medication, plans for care, and parent’s contact info. That way, the nurse can control what kind of info is being sent to the parents. For example: drank 2ml of milk – is breathing without the oscillator – just woke up… Inspired by Twitter, parents can receive their baby’s live status updates on their mobile phones, internet at work, and on the LiveBot at home which also changes color depending if baby is asleep or awake. This robot can stay as a souvenir even after preemie comes back home…
Pregnant parents are usually rushed into nicu’s because of complications with the pregnancy, and are faced with shock and guilt. It is a foreign, strange, and intimidating place, full of harsh, rigid, and linear medical equipment. Numerous wires and tubes are connected to the preemie and parents always want to understand what is going on in there. Knowing what is happening - understanding the unit and what goes on in there - can help reduce parents fears and will help ease their mind. This is why we are proposing a live contact service, which is interactive and
accessible 24/7 to parents from any web-connected location (home, hospital, café, office, mobile phone…), providing advice, information, and emotional and scientific support. This live Q&A service with a virtual nurse (reducing a real nurse’s workload) would provide information about the situation, function of the nicu, and all the equipment using simple expressions that would be convenient for all.
Another way of understanding the unit and what goes on in there is an interactive interface where anyone can navigate in the nicu space and discover the numerous wires and tubes connected to the baby, along with the frightening machines. By simply scrolling over the image, information about the equipment, in simple terminology convenient for all, would appear.
It is important for the parents to share their feelings and what they are going through. It is also helpful to build contact with people who have/ or are going through the same hard times. LiveChat helps parents with neonatal babies build long lasting relationships and new friendships that will help them get through this together.
It’s the small things that matter big time! But putting together a journal mapping pregnancy using ultrasounds, photos, notes, reports, and souvenirs, is the last thing on the minds of parents with a child in nicu. How practical would it be if parents can upload all their pictures, thoughts, and info online on a simple interface? They can also jot down their thoughts, memories, poems, and rants. We are proposing an easy to manage interface accessible 247/ to parents from any web-connected location (home, café, office, mobile phone…), where they can put together a personal album with no effort. Making them no different than parents with a normal pregnancy! Friends and family can even flip through this album online. Sending it to print at the end of the experience to keep it as a souvenir is also a possibility.