Mobile Care Suite helps families deal with difficult time

A team at UNC Children's wanted to provide extra comforts for a family during difficult end of life care. They designed and built a tool that gives families a place to be together.

Mobile Care Suite helps families deal with difficult time click to enlarge Jason Patterson with his creation.
Mobile Care Suite helps families deal with difficult time click to enlarge The Mobile Care Suite folded and deployed.

A new tool conceived and developed by a team at UNC Children’s will help families cope with a stressful time by giving them extra space in the often-crowded patient rooms.

“It will be a source of interaction and memory-making for families, a place to gather around,” said Jason Patterson, who designed the Palliative Care Mobile Suite. When folded up, the suite resembles a small cabinet. It can be stored easily when not in use. It also has a lock, so families can secure valuables while they are out of the room.

The mobile suite has been designed to facilitate family meals, games, and sibling play. If there are no medical restrictions, friends can also visit to play. Keeping the family and loved ones close by and providing for their emotional support and other comforts is the project’s primary purpose, and the enhancements contribute to the family’s comfort during difficult end of life care.

The genius of the design is that it doubles in size when fully deployed. A side pulls out to extend the top, and a leaf folds up to further enlarge the usable surface. Drawers are provided, and one of the internal shelves folds up to allow storage of larger objects.

The project started in January of 2014 when the Pediatric Palliative Care Committee (PPC) began thinking of ways to transform a patient care room into a more comfortable space for end of life care. Jackie Patterson, MD, then a resident on rotation with the Pediatric Supportive Care Team, suggested that her husband, Jason, was interested in working on such a design as part of his graduate studies in architecture at N.C. State.

This resource was quickly adopted by Stephanie Bohling, RN, Bre Bruckner, RN, and Nateefa Wade, RN, who were leaders on the PPC Nursing Subcommittee. They met with Jason who came up with a design and a project model. At this point they received funding via a Promise Grant, and the project was given guidance by Jennifer Pavlovich from the UNC Design Office. Unique Concept of Raleigh was chosen to build the project.

The mobile suite was delivered on Friday, April 1st, and was shown to caregivers including Dr. Patterson, now a fellow in the Division of Neonatal/Perinatal Medicine at UNC Children’s, and Jason, now working as an architect at Cube Design in Chapel Hill. The mobile suite will be one of several enhancements which serve the needs of inpatient families at the end of life. One of these is a specialty care bed which folds out to allow parents to sleep and rest alongside their child. Each pediatric unit also has been provided with a bin filled with lamps and other decor items to make the room more home-like.

“It’s been a long process, but it’s turned out well,” said Ken Steenson, MSW, LCSW, and a leader of the PPC. “Thanks to everyone on the team for their hard work. It has paid off.”


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