Four years ago, we were approached by the Royal United Hospital, Bath when they were planning a refurbishment of their Combe Ward for older people. They were hoping to find a larger version of our Day Clock which would be suitable for communal use and meet the assessment criteria laid out by The King’s Fund guidance.
Going into a hospital can be a disorientating and distressing time for anyone. Being away from the familiar environment of home can be very difficult to cope with.
It is a government aim to encourage hospitals and care homes to create more dementia friendly environments by creating calming surroundings to help avoid confusion. Orientation aids are recognised as being helpful in this approach.
Our Ward Orientation Clock provides a constant and reassuring source of information on time and place in communal areas such as hospital wards, day rooms, nursing homes etc.
One of the first bits of feedback that the team received about the Ward Clock on its first night of use was from a lady who was in the habit of going to bed at 9:00pm, only to wake up half an hour later and get up, mistaking the time for AM, instead of PM. Having the Ward Clock there with the statement ‘Now it’s Friday night’ reminded her of the time of day and immediately had a positive effect on her decision to get up or not.
The hospital made a conscious decision to remove all other clocks from the ward to keep the setting simple and fuss-free.
“If the Ward Clock had only helped that one person, it would have still been a great benefit.
The idea for the clock sounds very simple, but it works, and little things can make a huge difference to people’s wellbeing. Designability were, and continue to be, exceptionally supportive. The sum of our views, coupled with their expertise, meant that we could develop a product that ticked all the boxes.
They went out of their way to help us create something that was a direct request from the hospital to establish a space that was both comfortable and reassuring.”
Our Design Process
The development of the Ward Clock was very much a two-way discussion between the hospital and the team at Designability. We were able to collaborate to come up with an effective time orientation product which was trialled in real-life situations on both the male and female bays of the ward.
We were able to customise the display to transition from the time of day to images of local scenes to tick another of the criteria boxes and offer a different visual during visiting hours on the ward.
The clock unit includes custom software which can be attached to a large screen and we built the software to support patient orientation by displaying the time of day in different formats, the place name, and seasonal pictures, through slowly changing screens.
Benefits and Features
- Large screen with large text creates more impact than standard size day/date clocks and is more visible to everyone in the environment
- The presentation of time and basic information in different formats is comprehensive, inclusive and helpful to people who have variable levels of cognition
- It identifies day and night which is beneficial in 24 hour environments like hospitals and nursing home
- The screen assists staff by answering and reinforcing questions like ‘where am I?’ and ‘what time is it?’ These are questions that are frequently and repeatedly asked.
- The seasonal slideshows are visual clues as to the time of year and they provide an enjoyable pictorial view of the outside that is often not available and can encourage conversation
- It provides a reference for important contextual information, reassuring people who are confused and vulnerable
- Orientation information is automatically up to date, no staff input is needed (unlike more basic calendar signage boards)
- Everyone, including people with dementia, can access it
Specifications and Guides
The time is displayed in 3 formats:
- Traditional clock face
- Digital time, AM or PM, day of the week & date
- Now it’s + (day of the week) + (time of day i.e. morning, afternoon, evening, night)
The ‘place name’ screen is customisable e.g. “Royal United Hospital, Bath”.
The seasonal pictures slideshow can be displayed at two specific times of day (e.g. visiting times). There is also an option to include your own seasonal pictures.