Birmingham, UK – Philips has supplied the new renal unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital with a pioneering “ Imagination Light Canvas” – thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.
This LED based wall of light is a key element in generating a sense of wellbeing within the unit which has been designed specifically with a holistic approach in mind to lessen the tension, anxiety and stress young patients typically feel when entering a hospital environment.
The Imagination Light Canvas is a revolutionary, light wall, 3 metres by 1.5 metres, and is simply operated via a standard PC giving staff the flexibility to select from a menu of interactive and static scenes. The 144 individual LED points used within the canvas are thus brought to life in a myriad of colourful animations and shapes.
Deliberately positioned opposite the main entrance to the renal unit’s reception area, it is the first thing that visitors see on arrival, thereby creating immediate distraction, interest and curiosity. As Derick Harrison, Capital Project Manager at Birmingham Children’s Hospital points out, “Going into hospital for treatment brings out worry and concern in most people never mind in the young children we deal with. Therefore, we wanted to create an environment which is uplifting, far removed from the clinical, sterile atmosphere usually associated with hospitals. Our whole philosophy was to design the unit with children in mind and involve them in the design process. The light canvas has been a major part in helping us achieve what we set out to do.”
In fact, the whole project has brought much closer involvement with the local community. Support and fund raising within the region was instrumental in ensuring that the entire wish list of equipment, including the Light Canvas, was able to be purchased. Fulfilling the functional and practical requirements of the unit was of course given first priority. However, the project team was really keen to realize their vision for a space which would enhance the unit’s environment based on the ethos of The King’s Fund’s ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment’ programme1. Birmingham Children’s Hospital have previously undertaken two schemes as part of the EHE programme since its start in 2000 and is committed to following its philosophy on all capital schemes. The Light Canvas typifies the drive to “ Imagine the Possibilities”, one of the key values of the Fund which encourages creative thinking to improve the physical surroundings of patients for the benefit of their wellbeing.
Without doubt, the facility now is second to none in terms of state-of-the-art medical equipment but it is perhaps the visual impression and the bespoke features which make it even more exceptional. This is particularly relevant when compared to the former renal unit’s location situated in the lower storey of the hospital which was, in stark contrast, drab, dark and dull. Young patients are often required to attend for treatment up to three or four times a week for several hours at a time, therefore, with little to distract them it can make the whole experience much more unappealing.
This is no longer the case. The layout with its curved, flowing lines, colourful artworks, created by the children themselves, and choice of furnishings and materials all add to create a welcoming and reassuring ambience. In fact, the space is very much akin to the familiar surroundings of a junior school in its style and colour mixes, something which the children can immediately relate to.
Mounted within a sturdy steel frame, supplied by Midas Technologies of Peterborough, the Light Canvas itself has an intriguing quality of floating against the wall created by the LED cove lighting which softens the perimeter edges. Children cannot help but be drawn to it engaging with the vibrant, ever changing shapes as they dart and dance across the screen. Eye-catching for youngsters coming to the unit for the first time, the Light Canvas also offers welcome entertainment for patients who have to be kept on the ward for any length of time. The programme options even include the potential to create simple games so that 2 or more children can play together. Kidney disease is incredibly disruptive to daily life and visits to hospital can seem endless, therefore, having the opportunity to play and have fun is a welcome relief for children, and of course their concerned parents.
As Derick explains, “The Light Canvas is a very creative solution which helps alleviate some of the stressful emotions associated when receiving treatment at the renal centre. I am sure it will be a hit with everyone, children, parents and staff alike. But, for me the ultimate seal of approval is seeing a child’s face light up when they first walk in – that really what it’s all about after all.”
Without doubt the renal unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital is exemplary in the first class treatment it provides, but now it can equally be proud of the exemplary surroundings it has created for the young patients across the entire region who attend the centre as well.
Notes to editors
1) The Kings Fund is an independent charitable organisation that works to improve health care in the UK by providing research and health policy analysis, publications and other resources.