Seeing through the eyes of patients: a co-design project to improve mental health spaces
Dr Kathleen Leedham-GreenZoom
The humanities are often used in medical education to promote understanding, to explore phenomena, even to heal. In this novel educational project, we worked through humanities-based approaches to improve services.
Patient experience is critically important in mental health and may involve emotional vulnerability, and yet our mental health spaces remain comparatively underfunded and unloved.
Medical students from Imperial College London collaborated on a longitudinal project with designers from University of Westminster School of Architecture & Cities. They worked with patients, carers and clinicians to explore and suggest improvements to a range of mental health spaces including waiting rooms, evaluation suites, emergency departments and residential care so that they better met the needs of patients with dementia, learning disability, neurodiversity, complex trauma and acute crisis.
Our analysis includes observations, coursework, module feedback, and focus groups. We explore interdependencies between preceding and modulating factors, contexts, processes and impacts to see how this project supported learners in developing a new perspective on service improvement and a triad of positive reframing: themselves as capable of leading change, our services as dynamic and improvable, and collaborative practices with patients, carers and non-clinical experts as worthwhile.