The seaside theme was chosen by patients and their parents
The seaside theme was chosen by patients and their parents
Interior design project unveiled at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital paediatric unit

Seaside getaway helps to relieve anxiety among young patients

In an effort to help reduce anxiety among younger patients, the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital has unveiled a new interior design project which has turned the paediatric entrance and waiting room into a seaside getaway.

After fundraising for the scheme, the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust consulted with  patients and parents to gather their aspirations and provide inspiration for the look and feel of the revamped space. 

And the consensus was the children wanted a theme that reflected the Devon coastline. 

Following this consultation, the trust enlisted the help of Studio Hanson and Navada Construction to bring the idea to life.

If our scheme helps to alleviate the worries of a hospital visit for the young patients while they’re in the space, then the design is a success

Kay Hanson, interior designer at Studio Hanson, said: “When children visit a hospital for appointments or treatment, it can be a daunting experience for them – especially for younger children. 

“When I was approached by the trust we initially discussed creating an interactive beach themed space which would provide patients with a positive and playful experience and I couldn’t wait to begin the project. 

Designing to enhance lives

“Designing to enhance the lives of the user is a strong passion of mine and it was a great privilege to be part of this project.”

Bespoke, large-scale graphics were applied to the walls by NB&Co; featuring playful animals and children enjoying the sandy beaches and blue skies. 

There are also joinery palm trees, flying birds, and parasols to relax under, as well as sky-scene lighting and three bespoke, brightly-coloured beach huts. 

Each of these huts contains a different activity for children to enjoy during their wait; an interactive games table, a library, and a play kitchen. 

And, for parents, there are benches designed to mimic the look of hammocks.

Hanson said: “The space is a real paradise.”

The theme also runs through the flooring, which was selected from Forbo Flooring Systems’ Marmoleum collection. 

“When selecting the floor covering, we wanted something that had a more-natural and subtle aesthetic to replicate the movement of sand and sea, while also complementing the really-vibrant space overall,” said Hanson. 

“I have specified the Marmoleum range across many healthcare projects before, so I knew it was the perfect choice – not only from a design point of view, but also because of its natural bacteriostatic properties and sustainable credentials.” 

Sustainable materials

“For the sand, the team specified Marmoleum Cocoa in the white chocolate colourway, as the various tones running throughout the surface provide an authentic sand-like finish. 

Forbo’s Marmoleum range is manufactured from 94-98% natural raw materials, making it one of the most-sustainable floor coverings available on the market. 

However, the Marmoleum Cocoa range goes one step further, as it has an additional seventh natural ingredient: upcycled cocoa shells from a Dutch chocolate producer. 

The inclusion of the cocoa shells adds a rich granular look that is fresh and contemporary.

Hanson said: “Across the sand-like floor, we wanted waves to lap over from the sea and this was easy to achieve, thanks to Forbo’s laser cutting technology. 

“Forbo cut wave-like shapes from three shades of blue found within the Marmoleum Marbled Real, Splash and Fresco ranges – all of which feature a marble effect that helped to replicate the movement of the sea. 

The flooring plays a key role in the overall aesthetic
The flooring plays a key role in the overall aesthetic

“Once the bespoke shapes were cut, the flooring contractor installed the sheets diagonally across the entire room to create a focal point.”

Forbo’s Marmoleum Striato Original was used to create a timber boardwalk effect inlaid within the ‘sand’ through the entrance corridor which leads to the waiting area. 

To make the boardwalk even more realistic, the flooring contractors, installed the planks in an offset fashion to provide a more-rustic aesthetic. 

The child-friendly design reinforces the message that the child is at the centre of our service and that we focus on their wellbeing

“The client’s brief allowed us to be very creative and playful and, together with the fantastic workmanship of the contractor, the result is magical”, said Hanson. 

“If our scheme helps to alleviate the worries of a hospital visit for the young patients while they’re in the space, then the design is a success.”

Acting as an exemplar

The trust is now using this area as an exemplar project to raise funds for the refurbishment of the other paediatric waiting rooms and wards, and plans to continue the theme into the first arrival point for many children, including the children’s A&E department. 

Richard Tomlinson, spokesman for the trust, said: “We are delighted with the refurbishment of the paediatric waiting area and so are our patients. 

“We wanted them to be excited as they arrived and for the children to know this is the place they could feel relaxed and safe. 

“The child-friendly design reinforces the message that the child is at the centre of our service and that we focus on their wellbeing. 

“And the Boardwalk completes the complete 360-degree experience as they approach the department and encourages children, who might otherwise be anxious, to walk down to the waiting and play area.”

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