Creating a healing environment

22 Oct, 2021
Decal of flowers and birds in hospital

Katie Twisleton’s master's research looked at how graphic design could be used in a stroke ward to improve experiences of healthcare professionals, patients and their whānau.

In collaboration with staff at North Shore Hospital’s acute stroke ward, Katie collected information on the inpatient experiences of people who have had a stroke.

She then used this information to create vinyl designs that were installed in the stroke ward, which combined ideas of holistic healing (considering the whole person for the best possible health), and the recovery journey of the stroke patients.

Katie found that after a stroke, many people experience mental and physical impairments which affect their ability to move and communicate, and how they respond to their surrounding environment, which can heighten post-stroke anxieties.

The research also revealed the challenges designers face when working in complex healthcare environments and challenges around time and resource restrictions.

These challenges meant finding creative ways to engage participants, so Katie installed design prototypes in the stroke ward and found that graphic design not only enhanced patient and family experiences, but also influenced staff behaviour.

Black line graphic decal on wall

Katie installations brought nature into the ward, communicating the journey to recovery for stroke patients:

  • The journey begins in the ward: ink splotches and scribbles represent the confusion and darkness many people face after experiencing a stroke due to the impairments they experience.
  • The scribble then transforms into an outline of kowhai leaves that eventually split off, emphasizing how everyone’s journey to recovery is different.
  • The line begins the story in the welcome area of the stroke ward at North Shore Hospital.
  • The black line then starts to blossom into a garden of kowhai and harakeke, providing hope and an engaging welcome for patients entering the ward, representing an ongoing journey of growth for those leaving to continue their recovery journey.

Katie’s installations highlighted the potential for graphic design to be used to transform clinical environments, and to aid the recovery of patients.

Katie learned from staff that the graphics have become an important part of patient rehabilitation through occupational exercises and are used in activities to help promote ongoing independence.

“After seeing the potential graphic design has when addressing the needs of those in healthcare, I am definitely determined to continue working in this area,” she said.

“Through prototyping and testing in a healthcare environment, I identified an area in design that I am passionate about and pushed myself out of my comfort zone which shaped me into the designer I am today.”

Katie installing decal on window

Read Katie’s Good Health Design profile

Check out Katie's Master's exegesis

Website search