U-neat is the redesign of the hospital bed table and locker. The primary objective of its design is its easy clean features which minimise the spread of HCAI'S (Health Care Associated Infections). The main body of the design is made by rotary moulding ABS plastic. A major attribute of U-neat is its seam free filleted surfaces which eliminate corners for bacteria to build and facilitate easy cleaning. Every surface of U-neat is easily accessible for sanitising due to the table’s ability to rotate 360 degrees and the capacity for the drawers to be fully removed in order to access inside the unit. Another key function of U-neat is its provision of seating for visitors which helps to create a controlled environment for seat allocation. Additional functions of U-neat include ease of access to the top of the bedside locker from the bed; secure locking to protect valuables, increased bedside table functionality and greater mobility of the bedside locker due its small wheel base.
The impetus behind this design was to seek a solution to reducing the problem of HCAI'S (Health Care Associated Infections) in hospitals. It is far too common an occurrence that people admitted to hospitals for minor illnesses contract HCAI’s putting their health at a far greater risk than prior to their visit. Over 70% of the spread HCAI’S in hospitals is due to surface to person transfer of the bacteria. The only solution to reducing the spread of HCAI'S is the effective cleaning of the surfaces by staff. However the current furniture that exists is a breathing ground for bacteria. Further research also found that the frequent lack of seating provision for visitors also leads to the spread of HCAI due to visitors sitting on the patients’ beds and chairs. This issue lead to the development of a seating system for visitors in wards whilst still enabling the same patient-visitor interaction. Improving usability for the user was also a very strong motivation due to problems found.
This product was conducted as a final year project in Product design and technology in the University of Limerick. It was instigated with research into the area and through interviews with hospital staff and patients. Concept generation was directed by brainstorming ideas and sketching concepts. Various functional prototypes of the design were then built. A hospital bed was sourced in order to accurately test these prototypes with different users. A model ward was available on the University campus for testing in the real environment. A strong emphasis of the design was to minimise parts and fittings thus preventing seams and corners in which bacteria could build. Finally the product was designed using 3D CAD software and a 1/3 scale aesthetic model was constructed. U-neat is a product that addresses many of the problematic issues with current bedside tables and lockers in hospitals. Speaking personally, it is also the result of a very challenging but fulfilling years’ work.