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Young Male Nurse

The frontline safe space

How might we provide better emotional support to healthcare frontline staff more frequently and regularly so they can provide better care to patients?

Target users

NHS frontline staff in hospitals (A&E and ICUs) having to deal with COVID patients.

Key insight

  • Caring for Covid-19 patients in the high pressure environment of the ICUs and A&Es is extremely demanding physically and emotionally 

  • Healthcare professionals also need to be taken care of in order to better perform, specially during crises, when their abilities to stay healthy (mentally and physically) can actually save lives

  • Keeping healthcare professionals healthy can help to balance crazy shift hours during crisis and decrease staff shortages due to burnouts and sick leave

Result_Challenge 2_COVID19 Online DT Cha

Solution: The frontline safe space

Promoting emotional wellbeing by providing a space and framework for staff to unwind and openly discuss emotional issues

Emotional debriefs inspired by Schwartz Rounds

  •  While we cannot solve the budgetary and resource crisis, we can use Design Thinking to devise ways for ICU and A&E  teams to reduce stress in the work environment.

  • It has been demonstrated, by the use of Schwartz Rounds, where clinical staff meet once a month at large gatherings to discuss the emotional aspects of working in healthcare, that work related stress can be reduced.

  • We decided it would be good to spread the concept of Schwartz Groups by adding an emotional discussion component to team clinical de-briefs in ICU; a little bit and often.

  • They could be held in the physical environment of the safe space

The safe space: a place where staff can go to unwind and temporarily escape the chaos and stress of their immediate working environment.


  • Bringing the outside inside: a relaxing space within ICU that allows staff to virtually connect with  the comforting outside world.

  • The comfortable and secluded environment brings public and family support into the ICU for the staff to help maintain their connection to the outside and  bring them mental and emotional support.

  • We thought that the new hospitals being built in former exhibition spaces could accommodate these safe spaces. 

Emotional debriefs inspired b

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