Pearson Lloyd and Violence in the A&E

There were 57,830 physical assaults on NHS staff in England in 2010-11, and given the NHS’s initiative to design features that minimize violence in the A&E, it’s safe to assume that a disproportionate percent of these assaults took place in A&E departments (A&E, or accident and emergency, is the British version of American ER). The BBC writes that the design counsel and the NHS worked with psychologists to identify six profiles explaining why patients might become violent and nine factors that could trigger violence – such as inhospitable environments. Design firm Pearson Lloyd won a commission to create inexpensive elements that don’t physically create a barrier between staff and patients, but reduce violent incidents. It will be tested for a year at select hospitals. As we noticed yesterday in my post about the patient experience at the A&E, and as is restated by the Design Council:

Patients and other service users arriving at A&E by means other than an ambulance may have significant difficulties in navigating the physical space, and can become lost even before arriving in the A&E department. Once there, they are exposed to a complex system that they may not understand and is frequently not explained to them.

According to an article in Design Week, the new scheme to provide clear, prominent guidance and relevant information to patients and caretakers includes:

A new approach to greeting patients on arrival; a system of environmental signage, called ‘slices’, which gives clear, location-specific information; a personal ‘process map’ explaining what patients can expect from the treatment process; and screens to provide live, dynamic information about how many cases are being handled.

This information will be delivered via a series of narrow vertical information “slices” that can easily an inexpensively be placed in existing A&E facilities, creating an instantly recognisable point for information and communication throughout the department. These sliced could even be placed on ceilings to provide information to patients on stretchers. The Design Council explains:

The visual language was deliberately developed to reference a journey map, with each step represented as a ‘stop’. The stop names can be read from a distance, and the overall process can be quickly understood. If the reader moves closer, they can read the explanatory text and learn more about each step.

Both the BBC and Design Week links include videos about the project that I’m not able to imbed into the post but that are well worth watching. Below is a video from the Design Council explaining the initiative to reduce violence in the A&E.


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