Sky Ward, Evelina 1+

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust

Integrated play

Our work for the SKY Wards (PICU and CARDIAC) features illustrations from Andy Goodman along with integrated artwork. SKY is a highly medical environment catering for some of the most vulnerable children in the hospital – those in intensive care, and recovering after heart surgery. In collaboration with doctors and the play team we developed new innovations at the intersection of art, play, lighting, & physical interactions, helping to meet a range of needs.

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Let there be light

In shared spaces we integrated 3m x 3m floor-to-ceiling illustrated ‘Lightworks’, manufactured in translucent Corian. These glow gently, cycling through a range of colours, acting as a meditative, comforting presence in times of distress, and aiding sleep patterns and recovery./p>

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One Corian light combines two separate zones, which fade through colour combinations to give multiple impressions first a sun, then a hill, then a moon... Another depicts a sun traversing over a bank of trees. Throughout the day, the sun rises and sets in real time, acting like a sensory clock to bring gentle orientation for fatigued post-operative patients.

As the day begins, the Lightworks bathe the local area in ambient blues. As the afternoon progresses into the evening, blues give way to to magentas, and eventually to deep blue-blacks, along with a pale yellow moon. These organic hues and transitions play a vital role, helping to promote melatonin and recalibrate patients' sleep cycles (their “diurnal rhythms”), which will boost wellbeing and recovery times.

Every hour, these lights momentarily act as “beacons of play”, enticing patients from bed after an operation, with funky displays of light and colour – this spontaneous exercise is helping to tackle post-operative lethargy, which will help to improve physical recovery times.

“This was a hugely challenging art brief, with multiple needs and ranges of complex medical considerations. The end results are stunning, and are helping to bring better sleep, inspire playful interactions with doctors, bring personalisation at bedbays and much more. Young people and families love it, and they are telling us so.”

- Liz O’Sullivan, Arts Manager, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Play Innovations

A playroom for patients and siblings/families features wall artwork, integrated cabinets with cosy alcoves, and soft, vibrantly coloured cubes for play and seating – allowing families to spend time relaxing and feeling at home during their visits.

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As “Sky” was the name given to this ward, we integrated illustrations from Andy Goodman that pun and play with clouds, birds, and weather, offering humour and lightness as an antidote to the clinical setting. Feature walls, overhead lit ceiling tiles, and bedheads incorporate simple colourful shapes, colours, and mazes, to reassure younger patients, along with imagery and verbal/visual puns to engage teenagers and families.

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Use of magnetised strips allows children and families to personalise their bed space with cards, photos and drawings, along with thank-you cards and children’s drawings on larger feature walls.

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A ceiling runner system “Playtrack” allows the play team to personalise and decorate the ward spaces, solving infection control issues and creating new opportunities for indoor displays and celebration of patient creativity.

We integrated a series of large-scale fluorescent mazes to provide distraction/engagement during echocardiogram assessments; thus helping lower stress levels when children must sit in the dark to receive diagnostics.

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Quiet and reflection

Two rooms sit adjacent to one another, with a diving glass partition allowing for two artworks showing in each. In the Adults’ room – a space for parents to relax – we integrated a torn paper design in evening hues, offering a “grown-up” version of the Andy Goodman designs seen elsewhere. In the interview room – where parents may be given devastating, difficult news – we integrated an intricate, senstive artwork from Charlotte Mann – giving the impression of a window into a world outside.

Impact

“The 1:1 intricate drawing in our parents’ room at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital is beautifully-observed in outline black ink. It is an image which you can get lost in and contemplate and explore. Yet, its subject matter is vague enough, that if you receive sad or upsetting news, it won’t serve as a trigger afterwards. It is incredibly special and we are so fortunate to have it for our patients, staff, carers and families at the Evelina.”

- Liz O'Sullivan, Arts Manager, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

This project is the culmination of some fascinating and rich conversations with patients and clinical teams. Our aim was to re-imagine art to brighten up the hospital environment and aid recovery and wellbeing for patients, and our collaborations with doctors have provided new models of practice to take forward into the future.

Impact

“In our Sky cardiac ward the art is not just something to look at but has functions that are fundamental to the ward environment, from providing light and ambience, encouraging mobility, providing stimulation or encouragement when needed and supporting parents in a time of difficulty. Art in Site ensured that they understood the experiences of children and their parents going through cardiac surgery. They’ve managed to integrate the art into the very essence of the ward and as such they are supporting and enhancing the clinical pathway.”

- Aaron Bell, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist, Evelina London Children’s Hospital

This case study is part of the wider “Evelina 1+” project featuring seven departments incorporating art, interior design, playful journeys, empathetic storytelling, & digital interactions. See Projects for all seven case studies, or for a more in-depth look, see here. This artwork has been supported by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, which helps create a world-class environment for patients, staff and visitors at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Find out more at www.supportgstt.org.uk.

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Sector Healthcare

Service Post cardiac-operation recovery and intensive care unit

Date 2021

Commissioned Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Trust

Artist Art in Site, Andy Goodman

User Group Children & Families

Awards Building Better Healthcare Awards 2021, Winner, Best Interior Design Project – refurbishment

European Healthcare Design Awards 2021 Highly Commended, Interior Design & the Arts