CAMA, Inc. and IOA Healthcare Furniture
Firm's role on the project: Planning, Programming, Architecture, Design, Interiors
To harness the healing power of touch between a bed-ridden patient and a concerned loved one in order to promote healing.
Applying the evidence-based design process, CAMA, Inc. determined a need for family to physically connect with a bed-ridden hospitalized loved one. Unable to find a product on the market, CAMA partnered with IOA Healthcare Furniture to develop, test, and bring to market a new category of healthcare furnishing and designed the Family Bed Chair. The chair would be used by family members and adjust to hospital bed height promoting eye-to-eye contact and hand holding.
The challenge was for a design firm to engage with a manufacturer in product design. The concept came primarily from parents interviewed for the numerous pediatric facilities CAMA has designed. Existing products with similar function were identified but none met the needs.
After reviewing numerous sources for relevant evidence, the idea was presented to the manufacturer and design work began. The healing power of touch is an outcome that has not yet been fully explored in acute care interior design. While numerous studies confirm many therapeutic benefits associated with touch, including reduced stress, improved sleep, improved memory, and improved pain management, Western medicine has been slow to harness its healing powers.
The team's hypothesis is that physical touch will improve the state of wellbeing for a bed-ridden patient and reduce stress for a concerned loved one. Healthcare designers understand the positive impact of social support on healing and plan for it superficially with the addition of furniture, typically chairs, to clinical and recovery spaces. Rarely do healthcare designers dig deeper and explore how the built environment can encourage actual physical touch between patients and loved ones, patients and caregivers, and even from caregiver to caregiver. Yet this subtle shift in thinking may significantly transform healing spaces.
The engineering trials were the most challenging. Creating the right prototype took hours in the factory with skilled labor, engineering know-how, and a design that would make a difference to an interested population. Market studies were conducted through a series of fact-finding demonstrations with a variety of stakeholders and focus groups. Their critical analysis was brought back to the drawing board and then retested in the field. Several iterations of this process occurred across a geographically diverse area giving the team the necessary feedback to deliver a product that would improve healing.
After the consumer focus groups were satisfied, the product underwent performance testing to meet industry standards for safety and lifecycle requirements for healthcare. Although a different process from building architecture, the evidence-based process was remarkably the same and a great example for mitigation of the risks in innovation.
Family Bed Chair: a new category of furniture that is not a recliner or a sleep chair in the traditional sense; it is an articulating chair intended for family, not the patients. It has three applications: “eye-to-eye”, where patients and family both can engage with clinicians sharing critical medical information; “tête-a-tête”, where patient and family sit head to toe for sustained eye contact ideal for periods of wakefulness; and “lullaby”, where patient and family lie head to head for reading, watching television or computers together, or sleeping.
The chair will be offered in Fall 2015 and other pieces will be added to create the Healing Touch Collection.