Every year, 18,000 psychiatric client separations take place in Dutch mental healthcare facilities. Philips and GGzE are investigating an alternative for separation and hope to introduce a new care concept, which is embedded in a permanent research project. Today, Philips and GGzE jointly open the newly built High Care Unit at the GGzE premises in Eindhoven. In this unit an Ambient Experience for Mental Healthcare pilot concept is installed. This care concept is based on the Philips Ambient Experience solution and uses a unique combination of dynamic light, sound and projection. It is intended to reduce the clients’ stress and anxiety by supporting and involving them in their own care. With this new care concept Philips and GGzE aspire to reduce the number of psychiatric client separations. GGzE is the world’s first institution to install this innovative prototype in its High Care Unit.
Placing a client in separation is a last resort for both the client and the caregiver. Research indicates that, on average, a client placed in separation spends twice as long in a mental healthcare institution. This can lead to traumatization of the client, demotivation of the caregiver due to feelings of powerlessness, and increasing healthcare costs for the institution and the government.
Philips Ambient Experience as starting point
When Philips and GGzE started their research into a new concept –intended to increase the well-being of both psychiatric clients as well as staff– where better to start than with the tried and tested Philips Ambient Experience solution? This solution integrates architecture, design and enabling technologies such as dynamic lighting, video projections and sound. It allows patients to personalize their environment and surround themselves in a relaxing atmosphere before they will undergo, for example, an MRI scan. Today, more than 400 hospitals globally have installed the Philips Ambient Experience in a range of clinical environments.
Exploring new workflows to reduce stress and anxiety
GGzE and Philips took the Philips Ambient Experience’s key features from the hospital environment to a mental healthcare environment, and applied this when investigating the entire workflow. From the very start when a client that is about to escalate enters the High Care Unit, to the point when the client has returned to a calmer state and can leave the High Care Unit. From the intake room, through the hallway, to the support room; everything is designed with the intention to provide the client control and distraction and give the client the opportunity to maintain communication with the outside world. Our hope is that this may lead to a decrease of stress and discomfort and ultimately give the client a safe and secure feeling.
Involving clients in their own care
The client can select an Ambient Experience theme which he or she finds comforting, meaning the entire high care unit transforms in this theme. Dynamic cove lighting beckons the client gently towards the support room, so that the need for coaxing by the caregiver may become redundant. The support room’s main asset is a large interactive wall. Its multiple-option screen can display nature scenes that have the aim to reduce stress levels. And when the client is more responsive to stimulus, he or she can engage in activities that may support recovery and help in analysis and treatment.
Future plans for this research concept
This new care concept is a first in the world pilot installment. “At our new high care facility, we want to provide outstanding care in a healing environment, in line with our Planetree-approach*,” says Marie-Louise Vossen, GGzE Board Member. “We would like clients in a crisis situation to experience how they can rapidly regain control, through dynamic light, sound and image.”
“A great deal of research still needs to be done; we will investigate if separation rooms as we know them today ideally can be replaced by these kind of Ambient Experience support rooms in the near future,” concludes Werner Satter, General Manager Philips Ambient Experience. “We are continuing our research into this newly-entered area of health and well-being and aspire to create optimal treatment solutions, reducing the number of psychiatric patient separations and increasing the client’s and the staff’s well-being.”
*Planetree is an integrated approach which aims to provide more personal, human and patient-centered healthcare.