online: 18 may 2005
modified: 19 may 2005

10 may 2005 pleasant surprises in hospital

15:20: a 4 bed ward with only one other patient (and he soon departs as two nurses wheel him away in the Bruce Archer bed that, like this whole hospital, reflects and realises the design thinking of the 1960s and 70s - for which i feel some indirect responsibility, and in it some confidence.)

inspiring views from the 8th floor windows - immediately i recognise buildings i know and some i visited recently while house hunting... in the far distance the two tv masts near to Crystal Palace and i can see rainclouds and showers at several points on the horizon...

astonishment also at the a big jump in patient facilities - a new gadget at each bed providing telephone, tv, radio, as an integrated services via a small input/output device mounted on a flexible arm so that it is operable anywhere in a patient's 'reach space'. It is called 'Patientline' and in its name and its form reflects and embodies the typical idea of that time (the neo- modernist 50s to 60s) in which 'human needs' were most firmly 'put first' and technical (and even economic) factors came second, i think...*

...yes, looking now at that time, through its still-present effects here, in this typical hospital of the period, i feel greatly encouraged - for these manifestations of 'applied humanism' have survived, and are still developing despite and within the management-dominated centralist culture of the 1980s and after!

Once an idea has taken physical form, and has begun to provoke social adaptations that support it, it becomes largely immune to changes of policy or culture that have not themselves become physical, as well as 'conceptual' or 'social'...( Is that it? Indeed i hope so)

Hm... If this is true then we sufferers from the apparent negations of the 'inhuman' developments of the 80's and 90s need not fear, nor give up, for the people-centered efforts of these recent manifestation of the 18th century and its far reaching effects are still predominant - at least in such manifestations as patient-based hospital design and ergonomically-integrated electronic services...

I don't think this is wishful-thinking - it's more like late-in-the-day perception of physio-social strength (in which confidence was recently lost but which now can be seen as an adequate basis for 'the next step' beyond the defeatist post-modernism and towards a physical neo-humanism that can now bring revival of hope after several decades of the apparent defeat and destruction of modernism by social argument alone... (what a sentence - composed bit-by-bit but i hope it's just readable!).

The essential, i feel, in this renewal of hope for things human and modern, is to recognise that ideas can indeed improve industrial living if they are allowed to take physical forms that embody a .'changed priority' in how the designed world is funded and ordered and imagined!...

... the real can be changed and what was inhuman can be altered. This is the lost systemic of the new, the still real hope of the world that we inherit, form and inhabit.

good words! (and good night!) in this to me likeable hospital...

(despite the bureaucracy that inhibits more than realises its humanistic and imaginative promise).


when i got to using the Patientline gadget, i sadly realised that it is a cheap and nasty design with unnecessary difficulties and excessive costs for patients and callers and no links to the official hospital phone system ...

What a shame! Human needs are most certainly put second to exploitation and profit... is this what the proposed semi-privatising of hospital services is going to be like? It's intolerable!...

...but still, in my thoughts at least, is the possibility (if people are put first) of making this gadget the basis for greatly improved connections between 'being ill' and 'being in touch with both medicare and normal life'...

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