December 11, 2012
How do you design a better patient chair? For us it began with conversations, more than 200 of them. We spoke with caregivers, patients, and other support personnel to find out what works and what doesn’t. We also consulted with ergonomists, physical therapists, and gerontologists to understand the recovery process. We learned a lot, and the resulting design became the Nala Chair.
Patients need to be comfortable—physically as well as emotionally. One way the Nala Chair addresses this is by mimicking the natural movement of a person’s body: tilting and pivoting at the ankle, knee, and hip. The motion of the chair is relaxed and controlled; heavier patients will not recline too quickly and lighter ones will not move forward too quickly. Nala’s arms, long and wide, provide patients with ample place to grip while getting in and out of the chair—ensuring patients feel secure.
For caregivers, transferring seated patients up and out of a chair can be a strenuous task. To assist them, Nala was designed with a leaf spring to reduce the physical effort needed to move a patient. To simplify cleaning, Nala was designed with sizeable gaps between components to minimize debris build-up. Resilient materials and finishes were selected to stand up to the rigors of healthcare environments.
We believe that design is a process that begins with people. That’s why we talk to the right people, ask lots of questions, and listen carefully to their answers. The results of these conversations, as in the case of Nala, can be comfortable and healthy.
July 11, 2011
Good design addressed needs, and in healthcare—where patients, nurses, doctors, and support staff are all interacting in one environment—there are a lot of people with a lot of different needs. Gary Cruce, design principle at Nemschoff, understands this and the award-winning Oasis overbed table is a result.
Gary and I recently had an opportunity to talk about the design of Oasis.
What are some of the issues relating to overbed tables?
There are a lot of different people competing for the same small space on an overbed table. For patients, it is often the only place they can reach and store things while sitting in bed. Nurses use part of the table for setup and prep when they are in the room. And then, threes times a day it’s cleared to hold a food tray.
Research was a part of the project early on, and we worked closely with Kerrie Cardon, a nurse consultant with Herman Miller Healthcare. A photo survey she put together, for example, really helped us understand all of the ways [an overbed table] was being used.
How did this understanding translate into the design of Oasis?
We started by creating a top with a low-walled space at one end to better organize items, but without being too prescriptive and creating cup holders and niches for specific items. It’s easy to move things there when the nurse is working or the food tray arrives. On the column you sometimes find a box of some kind; we designed a small tray instead, which we left open for easy access and visibility. We added tall edges to the tray to keep things from falling off.
December 20, 2010
This fall, Herman Miller’s Insight + Exploration team and Herman Miller Healthcare worked with senior interior design students at Kendall College of Art and Design. The students in Professor Lee Davis’ Studio V class completed the interior design of an adult healthcare clinic, which includes primary care and an infusion center. Herman Miller provided knowledge about the function of the space and a comprehensive product portfolio that allowed the students to focus on creating an innovative, healing environment for these two unique patient groups.
The students did their own research, learning from interactions with office managers, nurses, physicians, and close family members who experienced these types of spaces and treatments.
“Research is a huge part of healthcare design. Herman Miller’s healthcare knowledge was a great assistance in our learning,” said student Melissa M. Suchowolec.
When asked to identify a key learning, there was consensus that the complexities and rigorous requirements of healthcare design were eye opening. The thoughtfulness and attention to detail would make them better designers of any space, not just healthcare.
Experiencing the students excitement, seeing their innovative designs, and hearing how this project had influenced their design thinking made this is a great collaboration and a meaningful experience for me and the Herman Miller team.
December 13, 2010
The recent Healthcare Design conference began on November 13, 2010, at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, with much anticipation from the nine intern architects sponsored by Herman Miller. The scholars attended a variety of educational sessions and toured the large exhibit hall. So I decided to ask them what they remembered most.
Here’s what they had to say about it:
Stevens & Wilkinson, Columbia, SC
One thing that I took away from the conference was the incredible anti-microbial properties of copper. Most anti-microbial products simply don’t allow bacteria to multiply on them, but copper actively kills bacteria.