Environments That Nurture

September 8, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Nurture, the new health-care-focused Steelcase company, prides itself on being an expert on "workarounds."

A workaround is a temporary solution to getting the job done when the regular method isn't working. And health care institutions are a common place to find workarounds, because no matter what the working conditions, the work needs to get done.

One company example of a workaround is seen in a snapshot of a nurse sitting on the floor with two file cabinets open in front of her and a phone in her hand.

"It proved she needed a speakerphone," said Mike Love, Nurture president. "She was being called by two doctors and asked to pull records at the same time, so she just put the phone on the floor."

Originally created as a collection of reapplied offerings from other Steelcase companies, future generations of Nurture will be built around industry research and intuitiveness. To do this, it has been immersed in research at institutions such as Ascension Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Mayo Clinic.

The award-winning Opus case good was one of the first products created for Nurture, designed with the notion that a cabinet with a rolling door would require less room than one with a hinged door.

Another product released this year, the Overbed Table, resulted from a product designer's hospital stay. He noticed that the table was "something that was pushed around until it bumped into something," allowing everything on it to spill. The table needed to be folded up when not in use, he thought, and it needed some compartments. It really needed a cup holder. When he caught himself picking at the sides of the table, he made a note to make the edges more durable.

Nurture does not pretend to usurp the place of architects and designers in the health care environment, Love said, or the facility teams of institutions. But in conjunction with design teams, the company can help an institution become more efficient and competitive.

In the case of workarounds, for instance, staff members may be perfectly comfortable with working on a trash can or a stack of boxes.

"They don't find anything wrong with that," said Libby Ferin, Nurture director of experience marketing. "Until we show them a different solution, maybe something as simple as a smaller surface or movable surface, and they see how that can help them reduce error and be more productive, more creative."

Nurture is not wholly focused on health care delivery, as many of its offerings apply to the patient experience. One solution, a soundproofing system from Details, helped improve a Tennessee hospital's patient satisfaction scores by 33 percent.     

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