“The Lost Words” by Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris brings a new dimension to health care.
Looking for new directions in business is extremely challenging, especially in areas you may not associate with your core business. But I often find excellent new ideas when visiting businesses, hospitals and art galleries around the world. Each year I try to visit somewhere so different that it makes it my best visit of the year. I found this at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore in North London, where I was in for an eye-opening experience.
The RNOH is a recognised world leader in the field of orthopaedics and neuro-musculoskeletal medicine. It treats more than 150,000 patients a year for conditions ranging from acute spinal injuries and chronic pain to sarcoma and peripheral nerve injury. I was there to visit its magnificent new Stanmore Building, which was officially opened in March by Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of York and Princess Eugenie. My eyes lit-up the moment I entered the building and spotted art, architecture, design and creativity blending together to give an exciting mix of life.
It is not often enthusiasm sparkles with really believing in a project but Rosie Stolarski, CEO for the RNOH Charity, does just that. She has great pride in what she and her team have achieved, and she showed me round, sharing her knowledge for the project.
What is so different in this brand new state-of-the-art development is how medicine and care has been dove-tailed into the world of literature, art and architecture in the aim of relaxation, portraying a new dimension. The building is the first part of a major long-term redevelopment of the 112 acre site, which will see the replacement of many of the old buildings that dated back from World War Two.
Art is helping patients to relax and recover from operations. For example, stunning illustrations from the book “The Lost Words” by the well-known author Robert McFarlane have been recreated throughout the walls and corridors of the hospital, with stunning effect. “The Lost Words” book was illustrated by Jackie Morris, with paintings of flowers, birds, fish and animals. Each floor tells a different story, bringing the outside world into the building, and there is also an actual garden for patients to relax in. I was so impressed with the way art has been integrated into the building to help with health and wellbeing. There is also a colour illustrated book for children, published by Penguin, which as an adult I found equally fascinating. The story revolves around how, in a fictional world, words began to subtly vanish from the language of children, fading away like water on stone.
As you walk into the building there is a 50ft high atrium with a coffee shop in the reception area, behind which is an innovative children’s activity centre, with light machines and kaleidoscope, plus a huge concave stainless steel mirror designed by Will Yates-Johnson, only one of three in the world, that creates a startling visual and aural effect. Hanging in the central atrium is a stunning installation called “Tribe” which was designed and fabricated by Studio Roso. It is comprised of 50 colourful heads, each one modelled on a diverse range of RNOH staff and patients.
All of this has been funded by the RNOH Charity, which strengthens the vital work of the RNOH on an ongoing basis by providing extra services and facilities that are beyond the reach of the hospital’s NHS budget. In the Stanmore Building these include two rehabilitation gyms, a social space for teenagers, an interactive children’s activity centre, and high specification scanning equipment to ensure the RNOH remains a leader in the early diagnosis of cancer. Plus of course all the contemporary art and poetry which provide a unique environment for patients throughout a number of young people’s wards, two acute wards and a 28 bed private ward.
The hospital’s CEO, Rob Hurd, is driving forward ambitious plans for the hospital. As he says “This is the first step-in an exciting future for the RNOH and builds upon an impeccable legacy of innovation in orthopaedics.”
With spas looking at the health markets, a customer’s decision to return or not to a spa or hospital is down to the experience they receive when visiting. At the RNOH the experience is most certainly original and the team at the hospital are excited by the developments and the long-term future of the hospital. Asking a local artist or author to illustrate or develop their books at your spa is a great way to expand your business, help clients and the local community.
All buildings have their own characters and I believe send out messages about the organisation and its people. This particular building conveys a caring message of wellness.