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Background: The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in the National Health Service critical care provision including both capacity and infrastructure. Traditionally, healthcare workspaces have failed to fully incorporate Human-Centred Design principles resulting in environments that negatively affect the efficacy of task completion, patient safety and staff wellbeing. In the summer of 2020, we received funds for the urgent construction of a Covid-19 secure critical care facility. The aim of this project was to design a pandemic resilient facility centred around both staff and patient requirements and safety, within the available footprint. Methods: We developed a simulation exercise, underpinned by Human-Centred Design principles, to evaluate intensive care designs through Build Mapping, Tasks Analysis and Qualitative data. Build Mapping involved taping out sections of the design and mocking up with equipment. Task Analysis and qualitative data were collected following task completion. Results: 56 participants completed the build simulation exercise generating 141 design suggestions (69 task related, 56 patient and relative related, 16 staff related). Suggestions translated to 18 multilevel design improvements; five significant structural changes (Macro level) including wall moves and lift size change. Minor improvements were made at a Meso and Micro design level. Critical care design drivers identified included functional drivers (visibility, Covid-19 secure environment, workflow, and task efficiency) and behavioural drivers (learning and development, light, humanising intensive care and design consistency). Conclusion: Success of clinical tasks, infection control, patient safety and staff/patient wellbeing are highly dependent on clinical environments. Primarily, we have improved clinical design by focusing on user requirements. Secondly, we developed a replicable approach to exploring healthcare build plans revealing significant design changes, that may have only been identified once built.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the Intensive Care Society

Publication Date