Bristol Royal Hospital for Children
Consultation and Evaluation
Working with User Groups
During the feasibility stage each of the artists,the senior interior designer and architects worked with user groups. There were forty-five groups in all and as arts consultant Lesley Greene had contact with around twenty of them includinga Parents Group, Ward Steering Groups and a Cardiac Group. The consultation with the user groups and children was carried forward as part of the arts strategy to support the commissions programme.
Parent representatives and children sat on selection panels of all major commissions. Eva’s work with children had proved very important and children were subsequently consulted on all decisions. In addition to User Groups children were consulted in other ways and Play Specialists were especially involved in seeking reactions and feedback from children.
From an early stage Lesley Greene recognised the need for project evaluation and was keen to assess the role that art could play in relieving stress. Professor David Baum was a keen supporter of the arts programme and he also saw it as imperative that it be evaluated. He recommended the involvement of Maggie Redshaw, an Environmental Psychologist from the Institute of Child Health, University of Bristol and raised support for the study from the Champions of Child Health Fund.
Maggie agreed to undertake the research and decided to look at the impact of the environment of the children’s hospital on patients, families and staff. The study titled Design for Health: the impact of a new hospital environment on children, families and staff recognises that after clinical care, psychological and environmental issues are of paramount concern. Using a range of methods including interviews, observation and questionnaires, the team set out to answer the following research questions:
1) How does the built environment of the new hospital impact on sick children, their families and the staff caring for them?
2) What differences in attitudes and behaviour have there been among parents, staff and children following the move to the newly designed hospital?
The study was planned in two phases. The first stage set out to collect the baseline data on views and attitudes of patients, staff and families on the environment and facilities at the old children’s hospital. The study gathered responses from a selection of staff, patients and families who had been in the hospital during the month of July 1999. The second phase aiming to collect comparable data following the move to the new children’s hospital, was planned for approximately six to eight months after doors opened to patients. The delay was built in to allow staff and patients time to get toknow their new environment. Data collection began in February 2002 and was completed in spring 2003. At the time of writing the researchteam were in the process of analysing the data and writing the final report for NHS Estates.
The project aims to highlight issues and problems relevant to children, staff and parents that are of wider significance to professionals and organisations concerned with the care of children in hospital, and in June 2003 the findings of this study will be presented by Maggie Redshaw and Lesley Greene as part of the World Congress on Design and Health in Montreal.
Although the study does not focus solely or specifically on the arts programme, the research will be highly relevant to those working within the arts and healthfield. The need for evaluation in this area has been recognised and very little in-depth research has been done into the effect of changing health care environments and the specific physical and psychological benefits to be gained from the introduction of artworksor arts activities into the healing environment.
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© Copyright Jane Connarty 2002.