get better

hospital nap
Kidnap Bob comforts Pa J. Click on image for flickr view.

It is easy to imagine why there are so many hospital-themed dramas.

Families huddled along narrow antiseptic corridors and in curtained corners of a silent room. Relatives who didn't use to talk, must at least nod to each other in acknowledgement. Children who have squabbled over the medical fees must put up reconciliatory faces before the suffering parent. Parents must tend to their children, at a time of their lives when their children should really be tending to them. The old man who never ever gets any visitors. Doctors and nurses for whom all this is part of work - and more. Individuals taken out of their normal lives and stripped of their clothes and all that they have used to define themselves; put instead into pajamas that are not meant to fit, just in case you should forget that it is precisely your body, naked and awkward, that has rebelled or decayed.

Other than actual medical tools, there's a whole lot that design can do to improve hospitals and the environments in which rest, healing and rehabilitation take place. In many ways, while much of the design rightly revolves around getting you in and out of the hospital as quickly as possible, the body does not always respond as efficiently.

When Pa J was hospitalised recently, he gave the "my last words" routine (e.g. "I hope you'll both have kids") and insisted his daughter wore his watch. All this, even though it was only a minor surgery. But put him in the most serene of pre-operation environment, and the same fears and regrets would probably still characterise his experience. I am reminded that there is nothing design - or any effort of human mind and hand, however creative - can do for the one facing death.


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