Participation in healthcare environment engineering
Engineering produces things (environments, products, processes) to improve our quality of life, yet the people who will ultimately use these things are often not involved in the design (or if they are, this consultation is often tokenistic). Decision making about design needs to directly involve the people who will use these things, to capture their subjective opinions, ideas, language, needs and feelings, and then to translate these into a format meaningful for designers and engineers. Involving people in engineering and design can have a transformative effect on new products and environments but since this is traditionally not part of formal engineering training, the benefits of participation still have huge, untapped potential. Furthermore, the notion that engineering can be enhanced through working with other disciplines is only just beginning to have an impact in engineering practice.
Participation is most powerful when it contributes to improving quality of life, and healthcare is the most timely and relevant application. The UK has been left with a legacy of aged hospital buildings that are unsuitable for the needs of today's increasing (and ageing) population. The design of healthcare environments can be linked to health outcomes so it is increasingly important to optimise the design and user experience of new build and redeveloped healthcare projects. The challenges faced by healthcare environment design are complex: infection control, safety, security, energy and environmental issues all impose constraints, and now the advent of parient choice means that the whole hospital must effectively "sell" the hospital as a carefully packaged experience.
Improving healthcare envrionment design requires a highly inter-disciplinary approach. This research programme draws together engineering with design, architecture, psychology, technology and healthcare. The NHS and industry provide real life users and opportunities for piloting novel participatory design approaches, with the ultimate aim of driving forward policy change. Crucially, end users (patients, staff and decision makers) are involved throughout.
The programme of research is executed through 4 core research themes:
- methods of participation in healthcare environment design, including exploiting ICT as an enabler to participation;
- best use of representations of future healthcare environments for co-designing with, and presenting concepts to stakeholders;
- data capture from these representations, and the best use, re-use, storage of and presentation of data to decision makers; and
- production of an evidence base for this research by measuring the effects of engineering and design interventions on health, wellbeing and healthcare effectiveness.
The Participation in healthcare environment engineering programme is supported by NHS Midlands and East, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trust, Arup, Edward Cullinan Architects and Enprecis Inc.
Dr Rebecca Cain, Principal Investigator
Dr Sarah Payne, Research Fellow
Jamie Mackrill, Research Assistant
Kieu Anh Vuong, Research student
Salma Patel, Research Student
Mahdad Sadeghi, Research Student
Rachel Potter, Research Student
Sussmek Pandharkame, Research Student
Dr Paul Marshall, Research Fellow
Dr Michael Rutkowski, Research Assistant
About the programme
Participation in healthcare environment engineering is an innovative EPSRC funded research programme. It brings together healthcare with participatory design and built environment design. The multi-disciplinary team is delivering high-impact research to improve the user experience of healthcare environments, through end user participation in design, engineering and decision making. The research produces:
- Better healthcare environment designs
- New methods for end user participation in engineering.
This programme is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council EPSRC as part of their flagship Challenging Engineering scheme. Challenging Engineering challenges the research leaders of the future to be ambitious in the early stages of their careers. The award supports challenging research programmes with a focus on training, to develop a research group over the course of a five year period. The award enables future leaders of engineering research to build a research group that will exploit creative research and develop novel solutions to some of the many problems posed to society.
Dr Rebecca Cain
in Experience-Led Innovation
R dot Cain dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk