Reducing Violence and Aggression in A&E

Violence and aggression in A&E is a major cost to the the NHS, so in May 2011 the Department of Health and the Design Council commissioned a multi-disciplinary team led by PearsonLloyd Design Ltd to explore cheap design solutions that could ease patient frustration and help make casualty units calmer for everyone.

Alistair and Nigel were brought on board to provide expertise relating to service design, operations and supply management. In conducting much of the project’s primary research, they spent time interviewing and shadowing medical staff, and observing patients in an attempt to study the A&E process from the patient perspective.

The team has now developed a series of prototype designs intended to help make patients feel less alienated and prevent factors that could potentially trigger aggression or violence in the casualty unit. These include a system of environmental signage called ‘slices’, which gives clear, location-specific information, and screens that provide live and dynamic information about how cases are being handled. Everything has been designed to be simple and low-cost to implement, and to avoid creating physical barriers between patients and staff.

Alistair said:
“Patients are generally most aggrieved when they don’t know what’s going on or why they’re having to wait. The team’s recommendations aim to provide a simple and better way of greeting and communicating with patients.”

The project also provides specific advice about lighting, decor and seating for managers who might be planning significant refurbishments. Two NHS trusts are currently implementing some of the recommendations, with a third expected to do so shortly. If these pilots are successful, then it is hoped that the ideas will be rolled out across the NHS.

For more information, see the project homepage.

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