17–year–old Lily Pickford, a year 11 student and aspiring paramedic, is no stranger to hospitals; regularly accompanying her sister in and out of emergency rooms, she understands the importance of designing adolescent and paediatric areas that meet the unique needs of young people.
Lily’s sister lives with multiple medical conditions and an intellectual disability requiring frequent hospital visits, often causing and exacerbating her stress, pain and anxiety.
“She’s spent many hours in the hospital, and whenever I’ve been there with her, I have always thought how things could be better,” says Lily.
Eager to help make a change, Lily’s mum Michelle, a Peninsula Health staff member, suggested she apply for a consumer advisor role with the hospital. The opportunity allowed Lily to work alongside Frankston Hospital’s redevelopment team, providing insight into the design of the new paediatric rooms and the dedicated paediatric area of the Frankston Emergency Department.
“Getting involved in the redevelopment project was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” says Lily.
“Seeing firsthand the operations and workings of an industry I’m so passionate about and being able to provide input that shapes someone’s experience in hospital has been incredibly valuable to me.”
As part of Peninsula Health’s Consumer User Group, Lily has made a significant contribution to the design of the new paediatric areas, bringing her perspective of a young adult with considerable lived experience, a keen and curious mind with a passion for improving the experience of young patients and their families.
During the process Lily met with the Frankston Hospital redevelopment team to discuss plans, layouts, interior design and furniture choices for the paediatric areas. She also attended the prototypes rooms with her mum Michelle and had the opportunity to experience first-hand replica rooms designed for the new hospital.
Lily’s feedback of “adults just put ottomans into teenagers’ spaces, and we don’t like them” was just one of the insights that resulted in the team rethinking the design and furniture choices for our shared paediatric zones, helping create spaces that met the diverse needs of people using the area – from newborns through to young adults.
“The typical clinical, cold and colourless environment of a hospital room provokes unnecessary fear and anxiety for my sister, often increasing her desire for physical comfort and decreased noise, which is almost always impossible to accommodate,’ Lily reflects.
“Hospital rooms often aren’t designed with families in mind — they’re restrictive and sometimes unalterable due to the nature of their furniture.”
But now, Lily’s contributions are helping to execute a new style of contemporary paediatric rooms centred around ensuring that everyone, her sister included, has an experience that is as comfortable, accommodating and as stress-free as possible. Developing inclusive spaces catered towards not only children but teens and their families as well.