Creativity + Imagination + Smarts

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Reducing aggression in A&E using informative, sympathetic graphic design.

A Better A&E is PearsonLloyd’s response to a Design Council brief to reduce violence and aggression in hospitals’ emergency departments. “The brief was as open as that,” says Tom Lloyd. “One of the first decisions we made was that we’d tackle low level aggression. If you hear a respectable person shouting, it gives permission to the people around them to behave in a certain way. We had a hunch that if we could address this, we’d reduce the violence that escalates from it.”

“Some of it was simple – communicating the fact that people are seen in order of severity rather than attendance, letting them know how long they might have to wait, explaining that they might have to wait more than once.

And then it was about clarity. The colours were chosen not to be in conflict with existing signage. We used contrasts to maximise legibility. Some people will be admitted while they’re unconscious, so we had to make sure that all the information was in every space. And every graphic is floor to ceiling - we needed to create impact.”

The results of the pilot were phenomenal: 88% of patients said that the new signage clarified the A&E process, 75% said it made the wait less frustrating, offensive language has reduced by 23%, and threatening body language and aggressive behaviour was halved.