Beautifying Hospital Environments for Children: KwickScreen and Vistamatic

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Childhood isn't always easy—especially when kids get sick. Children want to play. They want magic and adventure in their lives. Kids love colour and they need it when they get ill. Unfortunately, hospitals are often drab. They are built to heal the body, not to inspire creativity and feed the imagination. But this is all changing.

I'm Mark, Director of Operations at VistaMatic. We’re a family business that designs and manufactures glazed privacy windows, since 1990. Our triple paned windows are like horizontal blinds, each pane has alternating lines of clear and translucent glass. Turn the lever one way and you can see through the transparent slats in the window. Turn it in the opposite direction and the window becomes a solid translucent pane that obscures what's on the other side.


A Complimentary Meeting

The National Health Service is one of our biggest clients. You can find our windows in hospitals across the UK. They help balance patients’ need for privacy and healthcare workers' ability to observe them. We sell about 5,000 panels a year to the NHS, but only put artwork on a few of them—maybe 100. Usually it's to match existing artwork in a ward, and in a few cases, we installed these windows in dementia wards for elderly patients. We use art instead of letters and numbers to identify rooms and floors. Alphanumeric characters can be confusing to somebody with diminished cognitive facilities. Colourful images make it easier for sufferers of this illness to know where they are.

Recently, VistaMatic helped beautify the paediatric ward in the Royal Free London Hospital. We worked with KwickScreen, a company that makes cutting-edge privacy screens. It wasn't a planned partnership, but more about being in the right place at the right time. In June of last year, I was introduced to KwickScreen, I'd never heard of the company before, but quickly learnt our products complement each other nicely.

Privacy and Patient Experience 

KwickScreen’s privacy screens are an innovated solution, and ensure patient dignity. They are an easy and flexible way to divide space in an open ward. You roll them into a corner when they're not in use, and when a patient needs privacy, you just roll out the flexible material to create an instant wall. The screen can bend anywhere along its width to create a two-sided partition. If you put it against the wall, you create a cubicle with an entrance. You can also combine two or more KwickScreens to close off an even bigger space. You can print on them, too. 

Unlike the hospital curtains they replace, KwickScreen products are very hygienic. You can disinfect them on the spot by wiping them clean. It's one more thing our products have in common. VistaMatic privacy windows also replace curtains and blinds. It's much easier to disinfect a pane of glass than the slats on vertical or horizontal blinds.

That's why Natalie thought I should talk to Michael. What if our companies created a unified look for Royal Free London's refurbished paediatric ward?

‘Healthcare that balances patient privacy and careful observation is ethical and effective’

Beautifying a Paediatric Ward in Record Time

The timeline for the project was fast. The architects and designers had worked things out in advance, and in six months, we went from brainstorming to delivery. We finalised everything in October and delivered the finished panels one month later.

By NHS standards, this was a lightning-fast pace. We often meet with architects for a first consultation, then wait years for an order. We usually deal with NHS estates people who take a hands-off approach and delegate everything. Architects and designers write up the specifications for a given project, and then the hospital trust administrators sign the purchase orders.

A few weeks ago, I was given a tour of the new paediatric facility before it opened to the public. It was buzzing with activity as people set it up. Every bed has a KwickScreen that doubles as a magnetic display board, so kids can show off their artistic creations and get-well cards they've received. These screens are already printed with artwork, and they provide a colourful decor for kids who aren't able to supply their own artwork. Another KwickScreen is set up as a pull-out projection screen. Children can watch movies, TV shows, and videos while as they are being treated. It's another welcome distraction.

A Partnership with a Future

I would gladly work with Michael and KwickScreen again. Our companies approach privacy in two very different ways. Our panels let people see into rooms, or prevent them from doing so. KwickScreen divides the rooms in question. A hospital administrator will never look at our two products and choose one over the other. KwickScreen and VistaMatic complement each other, without being competition. 

At the same time, our two companies are an example of opposites attracting. KwickScreen is just out of the startup stage. The company does a lot of R&D and has a great deal of buzz around it. We certainly felt the energy working with Michael and his team. VistaMatic, on the other hand, is a mature company, our product is tested and true. We brand ourselves as an established provider of a bespoke solution, and the NHS has been coming to us for years.

KwickScreen may be a newcomer, but as I discovered during our time on this project, Michael and I have a lot in common. We know a lot of the same people and are both committed to providing a quality healthcare experience. Although we approach the industry from opposing perspectives, we are seeking the same outcome. KwickScreen and VistaMatic are natural partners. Together, we can do a whole lot of good in this world.