At the beginning of 2017 we were invited to take part in a contest of designing an exemplary way-showing system for Vilnius University Children’s Hospital. The project was organised by The National Association of Creative and Cultural Industries and Lithuanian Association of Graphic Design.
The purpose of this pilot project was to introduce to the hospital’s Board and to representatives of Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Culture, the relevance and necessity of design solutions in public spaces, starting with health care institutions and newly designed construction project for Vilnius University Children’s Hospital branch.
Having familiarised ourselves with the context and after taking a careful look from visitors’ perspective, we realised that even though way-showing system can solve the problem of orientation, there are deeper problems that we could tackle. A good design solution would encompass the way-showing function and an emotion triggering aspect that would help escape the negative psychological state of patients and their relatives, that usually follows arrival at a hospital.
First of all, as we performed analysis on who are the main visitors at the hospital, we made an observation that a notion of a child is very wide. Some of the scholars distinguish from 4 to 5 different child development stages, so we had to take into consideration that what is visually acceptable to a child from 2 to 5 years will be totally unacceptable for adolescents and vice versa. In addition to that, the design will also influence the experience of hospital staff and patients’ parents.
Secondly, we estimated that it is very important where the visitor’s journey starts, in this case, way before entering the hospital building – the moment when treatment is assigned by the family doctor. We chose it as a starting point for service design as at that very moment the child and his parents experience feelings of tension, fear and unknown that our goal is to tackle. Having identified the first step it was easy to identify further touch-points where the child and the parents face the feeling of unknown and create additional ones that would convert into opportunities on relieving stress and solving functional problems.
Thirdly, after identifying existing touch-points and creating new ones we moved into designing a visual language considering hospital walls as our main media. Process of drafting a visual scheme was heavily influenced by the observation that adults and children have different sight height and field of vision, so the information could vary on different heights depending on who information is intended for.
Moving forward, we raised ourselves an objective to create an added value to the design system we were working on, an element of education, defined by unifying creative concept. We chose to remind parents and introduce children with Lithuanian history, turning the hospital into a hyperbolised, modern Lithuanian castle, where walls were revived by prominent heroes, glorious stories, pagan traditions and forgotten ancient customs.
It all starts from the very beginning – during the visit at the doctor’s, when the child is assigned for the hospital treatment. The young patient is given an invitation to visit the castle and the detailed map of it, where the characters living there are introduced: head of the hospital – king, doctors – dukes and duchesses, nurses – princesses and etc.
Each floor and section is dedicated to the prominent Lithuanian hero, where detailed history of each hero and his/hers contribution to the statehood of Lithuania are introduced, using facts and biographies adapted to the contemporary context.
To conclude, our purpose when participating in this project was to draw attention of the government authorities to the fact that not only simple functional problems can be solved with the help of experience design, but we can go forward and begin changing negative experiences to the positive ones, all while creating additional added value – education.
If given a chance to execute this pilot project, we would wish to widen the scope of possible touch-points even more, also apply newest technologies and digital solutions.