A cutting-edge programme of arts at the Emergency Floor at St Thomas’ Hospital
A programme of cutting-edge arts and design to enhance the experience of adult and young patients attending the new Emergency Floor at St Thomas' Hospital.
Who: Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
Start date: February 2015
End date: April 2017
Grant value: £468,757
Supported through: Health Innovation Fund
A new Emergency Floor is being built at St Thomas’ Hospital to bring emergency services together in a single area of the hospital, increase the size of the A&E department, and expand the Urgent Care Centre. We are supporting the development by funding a cutting-edge programme of arts and technology for the new space.
The Accident and Emergency department at St Thomas’ Hospital sees over 140,000 patients a year, many of whom are especially vulnerable. Being cared for in an emergency setting is often stressful for patients, and this can lead to high levels of violence and aggression towards staff and other patients.
This project will help staff that are delivering emergency and urgent care by facilitating improved communication and by creating an environment which delivers a sense of place and a feeling of calm, through the use of art and design. Using tools including wall graphics, film and digital technology, it will help patients navigate through the area, avoid future admissions, and reduce violence and stress.
Children visiting Accident and Emergency are frequently scared and anxious, as are their parents. We have provided a second grant for ‘Taking the ouch out of Accident and Emergency’, a programme that will use art and new technology to communicate to children that they are safe and being cared for, and to distract them during difficult or painful procedures. It is also an opportunity to help children learn about their body and their illness, and about how to stay healthy and safe.
Construction work begins on the new Emergency Floor on the ground floor of Lambeth Wing and East Wing at St Thomas’ Hospital.
Selected artists and design consultants for the art programme for the Emergency Floor are commissioned/appointed.
The new Emergency Floor is completed.
The art programme is completed and all works installed on the new Emergency Floor and children’s A&E.
The arts programme within the emergency department won two awards at the Building Better Healthcare Awards 2017: Best Healthcare App and Patient's choice
This extensive project involves working with patients, staff, a design team and art consultants to produce art that uses fresh ideas and innovative technology to communicate, inform and reassure patients. Art and graphics will support patients through their emergency care journey by communicating and explaining processes at key stages. They will make each space distinct, helping to orientate patients, and will emphasise the human element of care within the busy and medicalised 24-hour environment.
Example of the types of artwork that will be installed on the emergency floor include:
‘Taking the ouch out of Accident and Emergency’ will use art interventions specifically designed for children and young people to make children’s Emergency Department welcoming and reassuring. Examples of the types of art and technology that will be introduced specifically for children include:
"The investment that Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity has made in realising this world-class paediatric A&E department is evident from the moment you walk in. The artworks are family-friendly, gentle, playful and representative of the blend of cultures we serve as patients. You really do feel like you belong when you come in to be seen and it makes A&E a friendly place for parents and patients, alike. The arts programme has been well-received by staff, young patients and their families, with children finding the environment of the Emergency Department a more fun and interactive space to wait to receive their treatments in.”
Liz O'Sullivan, Arts Manager, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
"We supported the art and design elements of the new Emergency Department at St Thomas’ because we believe in transforming the hospital environment to improve the wellbeing of patients and staff. The art and design scheme is a superb manifestation of the Design Council led research, which is at the core of the Emergency Department's redevelopment. The project will undergo robust evaluation as it is important for us to learn from this project, and that this knowledge is shared and disseminated."
Gabrielle Allen, Programme Manager, Guy's and St Thomas' Charity
Positive links have been demonstrated between good design, staff attitude and patient wellbeing. Enhancing the environment of hospitals can help reduce levels of violence and aggression.
A reassuring environment will be created with the use of appropriate art to impact positively on the mental health of patients. The artwork will also help to create a stimulating working environment which staff can feel proud of, and provide reassurance to people that relatives or friends are being treated in a high-quality, caring environment.
Children and young people in the Emergency Department are frequently scared and anxious. Traditionally, children’s emergency departments have little in the way of distraction; just some toys and a few books. ‘Taking the ouch out of Accident and Emergency' will introduce art and design that is innovative and inspiring, and that brings a much-needed feeling of calm to the area.
The art will welcome, reassure and distract children, and will capitalise on the opportunity for education and prevention.
St Thomas’ Hospital is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and is a major emergency and specialist hospital. Its Emergency Department is one of the busiest in the NHS, treating 380 patients a day on average, including around 180 with serious conditions. The children's Emergency Department sees around 60 young patients a day.
The new Emergency Floor was completed in 2018. Key features will include an improved and enlarged Accident and Emergency department; an expanded Urgent Care Centre; 78 adult inpatient beds with ensuite facilities; and a six-bed children’s short stay unit.
This major investment will bring together emergency services in a single area of the hospital in order to improve not only the quality, safety and efficiency of care, but also the overall experience of patients requiring emergency treatment.
Our funding is also helping Guy's Hospital, specifically its new Cancer Centre.
The new Emergency Floor at St Thomas' will allow more patients to be treated - the current Accident and Emergency department was designed to see a maximum of 300 patients a day; it currently sees around 380 a day. On the new Emergency Floor patients will be treated in a better environment, and our art and design programme will help improve their experience during what can be a very stressful time. Graphics and technology will provide clear, easy-to-follow information, helping patients to know what to expect, and art installations will create a calm, reassuring environment.
Patients have been consulted throughout the life of the project and will be asked to evaluate the impact the art and technology installations have on the Emergency Floor. They will be asked whether the artwork feels welcoming and reassuring; how much improves their understanding; and whether it contributes to their experience during their time in the emergency department.
Evaluation of the children’s Accident and Emergency artwork will involve consulting with children and parents to find out whether it improved their experience and whether the digital interventions were effective at educating them to prevent accidents and illness.
The programme won three prestigious awards through the Building Better Healthcare Awards. In 2017; the Best Healthcare App and Patient's Choice award for Children's Emergency, and in 2018; the Best Collaborative Arts award for the Adult Emergency Department. It was also awarded a highly commended at the European Healthcare Design Awards.
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