Philips Ambient Experience

Intro

For prospective hospital projects, I visited Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) in US hospitals, then shared the findings with other designers. We had guided tours, did shadowing, and conducted interviews and multi-stakeholder workshop sessions. We observed extremely complex task-related experiences in the caregivers, and complicated emotional experiences in the family members. After carefully analyzing our findings, we mapped them out to represent the common experience of family members while staying at NICU environment. Below were presented as design opportunities.

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Abrupt Changes

Having to go to a NICU is not what most parents have in mind when being pregnant. Going from happy and expecting to abrupt change - feeling overwhelmed and lost, finding oneself in an environment that you not wish to be.

Subtle Changes

Within the NICU one can distinguish different phases, e.g. from critical to less critical phases. From having to stand on the side and watch clinical professionals 'do their thing' to being suddenly involved -again- in taking care of a little one that parents have yet get to know. and at the same time deal with their own mixed feelings - stressed, guilt of having no immediate affectionate feelings, etc.

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Family and Infant Relationship

  • Establishing successful parent-infant relationship early in infant’s life is critical because of its impact on infant development
  • Parents need to be equipped with knowledge to be able to recognize their infant's behaviours in their hospitalization and know how to appropriately respond
  • Separation is most difficult aspect for mothers; it interrupts attachment
    • Critical time period is first few hours and days after birth which leads to positive bond
    • Unsuccessful attachment leads to negative and long-lasting effect, linking an increased risk for child abuse
  • Mothers may feel like visitors; preterm births may delay maternal identity (Reid, 2000)
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Stimulate Parental Role

In the phase of ‘Breathing, Feeding and Growing’, much attention is paid to the increase of parent involvement. Besides opportunities on how to support that involvement, it also interesting to explore how the parental caregiving involvement can be initiated and increased in earlier phases. Because:

  • Many parents don’t feel like parents until discharge. Great opportunity to explore how physical and developmental environment can influence this feeling of parenting
  • Earlier phases NICU most emphasis is on clinical activities and staff
  • Parents behaviour and interactions with infants during NICU stay tend to remain consistent over time and affect later interactions and caregiving
  • Unsuccessful attachment leads to negative and long-lasting effect, linking an increased risk for child abuse
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Relationships Amongst Families

  • Sharing experiences with other NICU families provides feeling of being understood, not feeling alone
  • Easily accessible spaces (i.e., location within view of infant) which permit more interactions are desirable in SFR NICUs
  • Open Bay provides a venue for interaction, but perhaps does not provide other environmental attributes to support extended interaction
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