Research on the importance of the hospital room

“The objective ICU room can be measured, categorised and evaluated based on functional properties. However, this tells us nothing about how the room is perceived or about its importance for the caregiving and for the people who inhabit the space and the room,” says Sepideh Olausson in the foreword to her thesis.

Based on photographs

Over seven years, Sepideh Olausson, a doctoral student at the University of Borås, has studied the importance of the hospital room based on the perspectives of the staff, the patient and the families. She recently defended her thesis at Linnaeus University. Using photographs taken from the respective perspectives of the patient, the staff and the family members, she has discussed the design of the hospital room with the different groups.

Based on the image material and interviews, Sepideh Olausson has been able to define a number of problematic areas when it comes to the current design of hospital rooms and family rooms at certain intensive care units. One example is the question of space.

“No-one has enough space. The family has nowhere to go, they want to be there, but they don't want to disrupt the care. The staff, for their part, want to welcome the family members as far as possible because many of them know that it's important for the sick person to have family around for support. At the same time, it is difficult to give the family space – the room is cramped. The nurses have to prioritise between different tasks and what will benefit the well-being of the patient. In my opinion, it doesn't have to be that way. In this day and age, we could do both,” says Sepideh Olausson.

Multiple problems

One example of a problem that all three groups in her study have in common is the lack of privacy inside the patient room at the ICU. Care in large, open wards makes it difficult to maintain confidentiality and to protect other sensitive information.

“The rooms have been designed to make everything visible and everyone can see and hear all that goes on in there. I don't look at correlations in my theses, but on this subject I might mention that the research literature suggests a direct correlation between visibility and mortality. You have to be able to see the patient to assess their condition in time. If you don't see them, there is a great risk of not noticing a deterioration,” says Sepideh.

Sepideh Olausson's thesis is titled "Intensivvårdsrummets betydelse för vårdande och välbefinnande -patienters, närståendes och vårdpersonalens perspektiv" [The importance of the ICU room in terms of care and well-being from a patient, family and caregiver perspective].