With her experience as a paediatric intensive care nurse and university lecturer, Monica was instrumental in ensuring that the 35,000m2 extension, with operating theatres, an intensive care unit and three floors of single-bed patient rooms, would provide the best possible environment for the care of sick children.
What were your aims in designing the new hospital? How is it different from other, more traditional children’s hospitals?
Monica Johansson (MJ): We are fortunate in that we were already one of the leading children’s hospitals in Sweden, but the original 1960s building of the existing hospital was lacking space for new and more advanced nical equipment, space for involving parents in their children’s care and we had a really dull looking building. This new facility is for sick children either on short visits after surgery or for long-stay patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses, who require 24/7 care. We wanted to create a homely atmosphere for the children and their families, as well as to provide the best possible working environment for our staff.
From surveys I conducted with children and their parents I found out that the children wanted more colour, and their own ward rooms where they could be with their parents and where friends could visit, equipped with TV, internet and computer games. Parents wanted to be at their child’s side with all the facilities needed for a comfortable stay; a bed, a shower and somewhere to relax and make phone calls.
The staff wanted to work in smaller, self-contained units, each with a nurses’ station, team room and documentation located close to the patients, rather than the large, central administration room they had previously occupied. This would allow them closer, more immediate contact with the children and their parents. They also requested a large staffroom, a kitchen to prepare lunch and relaxation areas.
Of course, the overall driver in the design of this hospital was for the child to be at the centre. To lessen the anxiety of children as they arrive, we have the play therapy area at the entrance, to immediately create a fun atmosphere. We also have an arts area, a music room and for the teenagers a room with a pool table and cosy areas for computer games and where they can meet their friends. There are classrooms for those well enough to leave their beds, and there is a central indoor garden which provides a calm and relaxing area for children and their parents. New for us is the swimming pool in the physiotherapy unit for children with rheumatic diseases, pain problems, anxiety and obesity.