Place, space and intensive care

The Research Program  is based upon a caring science perspective, which purpose is to seek and produce knowledge about what is caring in high technological care environments.

Based on the assumptions that physical and psychological care environments are interacting, the physical premises, places, rooms, the interior, material and equipment as well as the atmosphere and mood are of interest for research and studies.

A place is always lived, i.e. always personally and individually experienced. The patient room at the intensive care unit (ICU) is supposed to cover a lot of diverse needs and demands. It is:


  • A room for advanced medical and technological equipment
  • A room where the health professional take care for the patients’ basic needs
  • A room built for advanced surveillance
  • A room for various encounters, discussions and decisions of vital importance
  • A room for rest and recovery  - a sick room, a room for advanced caring performance, a healing room, a bed room, a resting room, and a living room where you meet with visiting next of kin and friends at the bed site. 
  • A room where the patient’s body and senses are exposed to medical and caring activities something that put risk patients at risk for sensory overload, psychological exhaustion and loss of control regards to time and place.


A caring science perspective 

The Nordic countries have a strong tradition of a caring science perspective. Patient and family perspective is central in clinical practice AND research. 

  • Care is an unselfish and loving giving to the other, it is about charity, responsibility and watching over the other
  • The basic foundation for professional care practice and research approach in improving ICU care quality. 

Knowledge about the care environment can contribute to a safer care for patients, their relatives and the staff and also protect against harm, damage, mistakes and unnecessary risks.

The research findings can bring about development of important concepts and theories for caring science. 

Design in the ICU

Through careful collaboration the research programme developed a patient room at an intensive care unit (ICU) which has been refurbished concerning principles for evidence-based design. The programme is funded by VR during the years 2014-17. A research project about the refurbishment in an ICU according to evidence-based principles and the study of the effects is considered complex intervention research.

Mood board

The research theme and representatives created a mood board during a course within the organization Considerate Care.

The following concepts were taken into account; safety, security, calmness and harmony, wellbeing health, natural, organized, responsibility, rhythm and balance guided this work..

Aspects that were changed were:


  • Sound environment: extra sound absorbents are installed behind the walls and especially behind patients’ head end and in the ceiling.
  • Light environment: a circadian/cyclic light system was installed
  • Interiors: balance, sustainability, an ecological, functional and a beautiful design– calmness!


Furniture and textiles were chosen from the ”Green List”, i.e. a list of sustainable products. Bed linen is in ecological cotton. Cabinets and shelves were built into the walls as plain surfaces. Greenery outside the window was designed to give a view to nature to patients, their loved ones and staff. A digital monitored cyclic light system was installed, with “up-lightings” so the patients avoid being blinding. The ceiling is plain and white as we did not want to stimulate nightmares or unreal experiences. Healing and beautiful environments support wellbeing and makes high-tech environments attractive to work in.

The research group within high-tech environments used a theoretic model: Medical Research Council Guidance (external link).

In summary this model has the following steps:

  • The theoretical phase: make clear different traditions and paradigm of knowledge and basic values. Literature review – obtaining existing evidence
  • The modelling (and building) phase; developing the intervention, methodological design and implementation phase and ethical considerations 
  • Piloting and assessing feasibility
  • Evaluating and reporting of the intervention 


  • The department of work and environmental medicine, Gothenburg University
  • The School of Textiles, The University of Borås
  • The Centre for Healthcare Architecture, Chalmers, 
  • SÄS Borås
  • The faculty of engineering and Architecture Lund
  • companies within the health care sector.