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Fraser Health: Enhancing Patient Safety

Enhancing Patient Safety is the result of Emily Carr’s 2013/14 partnership with Fraser Health Authorities. This project aims to change the culture of safety in hospitals by providing the tools to encourage an open dialogue between doctors, nurses, and patients. Enhancing Patient Safety aims to change the culture of safety in hospitals by providing the tools for patients and care teams to work collaboratively towards improved safety. Enhancing Patient Safety is based on innovative design research methodologies in which Emily Carr researchers, including faculty members Aitken and Deborah Shackleton, as well as Undergraduate Design students, worked directly with FH staff and patients to devise solutions. The resulting communication campaign includes a safety briefing video, a tablet based App for patients, and designs for interactive smartboards to be implemented across all Fraser Health locations.

Design Process


In order to best understand the inner workings of care facilities such as those at Fraser Health, the team took great care in learning from those individuals working in the health field. Rather than design from an outside perspective, the students were taught to practice proper design researching methods. These included co-creation sessions with various members of staff and the public, ethnographic probes with current patients and phone interviews with current physicians at Fraser Health.


Through the research, it also became evident that the topic of patient safety in hospitals was not limited to the walls of healthcare facilities. The factors extend beyond hospitalization to include the education and attitudes of caregivers to the protocols surrounding patient discharge and aftercare. The goal of the project was to change the culture of safety in the hospital and provide tools to encourage open dialogue between doctors, nurses, and patients.

In order to reduce the rate of infection, falls, and medication errors within the hospital, patient engagement and interaction was key. This shift in the culture of healthcare was visualized using a Circle of Trust, which puts the patient at the centre–recognizing the patient as an essential component in his/her own health care.