Human Hospitals Project – Camerados

| Azad Sharma

In July, the UK celebrated 70 years of the NHS. A key experience shared by many of us who use the NHS, is the experience of visiting or staying in hospital. Despite the efforts of hospital staff to make this experience friendly and amicable, hospitals can feel quite sterile and unfriendly. In part due to access only doors, uncomfortable waiting rooms and a maze of corridors and departments to navigate. And these things are often experienced when we are at our most vulnerable; when we are sick, injured, worried, and tired. At such a landmark anniversary for the nation’s favourite institution, improving the hospital experience seems important and necessary. Have we missed something important about healthcare if we don’t use hospitals as spaces that also foster social connections?

Fortunately, this could all change thanks to the Human Hospitals project by Camerados. We are big fans of Camerados and have recently written about their Public Living Room in Worthing. And we really enjoyed hearing about this hospital project, but how did it all begin?

In 2017 Camerados did an experiment, they placed a teepee in Blackpool Hospital’s atrium filled with comfortable sofas, chairs, and rugs. The teepee provided a colourful and welcoming environment for people to relax and talk. The results were encouraging as staff, patients and visitors – several thousand people in total – began to make connections in the teepee and look out for each other more than ever. They felt it helped to make the hospital a better place to work, a more supportive place to get better, and a more welcoming place to visit. The teepee has now made a successful return to Blackpool Hospital, with well over 1,000 people visiting in just a few days and countless positive stories of human connection and support already told.

“It’s really amazing that a simple tent can produce these results, of people talking, connecting and feeling more supported in a hospital environment,” said Maff Potts, founder of Camerados. “Hospitals can be pretty stressful places, and are definitely emotive – everyday people get bad news and good news here. We know that NHS staff and resources are stretched to the limit, and that hospitals are full of everyday heroes working really hard to help patients and their families. This is a place where you need support, but it can be hard to find. You won’t expect to see a teepee in a hospital atrium – that’s why we put it there. This time round we also have pop-up connection points and innovations in waiting rooms too – all aimed at giving people space to connect! People are intrigued to find simple but totally unexpected spaces, where they can talk, relax, connect with others, or just simply be.”

Visitors to the new spaces have told stories of finding a moment of calm before stressful appointments; of personal connection; and how these spaces have transformed their time in a healthcare setting.

Camerados have recently secured funding to roll out the project in five innovator hospitals. They are also holding two special events for interested parties to experience the teepee and learn more about human hospitals, and the opportunity to partner with the movement. The events are being held in Blackpool on 19th July and 29th August.

We’re really excited about this project which is changing the future of our hospitals by encouraging human connection in these vital spaces. If you’d like to find out more check out the Human Hospitals project online or head to check out this animation.

Photo by Everton Vila

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