The designer of a ‘pit-stop’ for worn out NHS staff on long shifts is in the running for a prestigious global design award.
University of Northampton undergraduate, Ivana Stefanova, has been nominated for a 2018 RSA Student Design Award after devising her SmileStop concept, which aims to boosts the wellbeing of nurses, doctors and other hospital workers.
Ivana’s SmileStops are small, fun structures designed to make hospital staff smile, by giving them a place and activities to help them reflect, chat, relax and laugh.
“A pit-stop is where racing cars stop during a race to refuel, change tyres, be repaired and have mechanical adjustments made,” said Ivana, who is in the second year of her Interior Design degree.
“Similar to a pit-stop, the SmileStop offers staff a way of ‘refuelling’ while walking to their next job, helping them to fight stress, increase general happiness and improve mental health and wellbeing.”
Ivana has come up with a couple of designs for her SmileStops. The first is a semi-private booth where staff can have quiet conversations, take a break, spend a moment alone or enjoy activities on display: thank you notes from patients, stories and facts, drawings or calming nature scenes. The second takes the form of an activity wall, which can feature the same activities.
Ivana’s idea for the SmileStop came to her after she researched the pressures faced by NHS hospital staff. She found that a typical hospital worker walks 10 miles in a 12-hour shift, with two 15-minute breaks, one-in-10 nurses quits NHS England each year and staff absences for mental health problems have risen by 22 per cent between 2012 and 2017.
She said: “Because of hospital staff’s important role in our society, I wanted to concentrate on activities that promote feelings of meaning and purpose, belonging and social contribution, as well as connecting with others, expressing yourself and taking time to take notice of your mind.”
“I interviewed paramedics and a former nurse and they all loved the SmileStop concept. The former nurse told me it was a great alternative to staff rooms, which are often too busy, with people interrupting your break, they can be in a remote location that takes most of your break to reach, and often has a negative atmosphere.
“She felt the SmileStop’s convenience was a big plus, as they can be located at various points around a hospital. She also liked the fact it would give her a place to be alone for a few minutes, to sit down and gather her thoughts before seeing the next patient.
“She also felt smiling is essential in the job, and the SmileStop would put you in the right frame of mind to go back out there with one on your face, feeling refreshed.”
Ivana, who is originally from Pleven, in Bulgaria, will find out in the summer if her concept will be recognised with an award – the RSA awards are the longest-running global student competition which challenges emerging designers to tackle real-world social, environmental and economic issues.
She said: “I had high hopes for my project, but I couldn’t believe it when I found out I had been shortlisted. It still hasn’t sunk in. Just to be shortlisted is a great honour.”
The University has an excellent recent track record in the awards, having two Interior Design students shortlisted for the 2018 competition, and two winners from the course in the past two years.