A Better A&E initially came out of a collaboration between the Design Council and the Department of Health, who wanted to tackle the problem of violence and aggression towards hospital staff, particulary in high-pressured areas such as Accident & Emergency (A&E). Studio PearsonLloyd led the creative work in generating the solutions in conjunction with organisational consultant Julian Lousada and organisational psychologist Vyla Rollins.
“We saw an opportunity for design to address the triggers of frustration and hostility in A&E, where the problem is particularly difficult to manage due to the complex and unpredictable nature of the environment,” says Catherine Pratt, project manager for health at the Design Council.
According to PearsonLloyd’s research, much of this violence is triggered by confusion among patients and the perception that they are not getting good care. The designers developed a guidance package which through wall and ceiling panels, locator maps, digital signage and leaflets communicated information to those checked-in, including how the department works, and live updates on personal waiting times.
The results have been impressive with 75% of patients reporting that the improved signage reduced their frustration during waiting times. Significantly, a 50% reduction in threatening body language and aggressive behaviour was also recorded following the implementation of the design solutions – available for A&E departments to purchase and install via abetteraande.com.
“We remain ambitious,” says Pratt, “and we won’t describe this as a complete success until these solutions are installed in tens or even hundreds of A&E departments around the UK.”