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2017 12 01 OPI case Vela stol Rumba.jpg

A Chair that Caters for the Requirements of Relatives, Patients and Healthcare Staff

A new chair, specially designed for the parents of premature babies, is the result of a Private Public Partnership between the Danish company, VELA, and Lillebælt Hospital. The chair is perfect for parents, premature babies and healthcare staff. Here, VELA offer 3 tips for Private Public Partnerships (PPP).

Research shows that close contact between premature babies and their parents improves the babies’ growth. When parents lie down and have skin-to-skin contact with their premature babies it helps support the infants’ development and strengthens the bond between the parents and their children. 

This was the basis for the Danish-designed chair, Rumba, which assists skin-to-skin contact and reduces hospitalisation time by as much as 24%.

- Normal chairs are inconvenient, and lying in a bed all day is not very desirable. The new chair shifts the focus from the item of furniture to the child. The first time I sat in it, I fell asleep after just 20 minutes, and Liam and I slept for an hour. That’s pretty remarkable,  says Anders Ali Madsen, who became the father of Liam in spring 2017. 

Anders Ali Madsen was part of a user panel that tested the Rumba chair. The chair was designed by the North Jutland-based company, VELA, which manufactures ergonomic chairs, in close collaboration with such partners as Lillebælt Hospital. The collaboration focused particularly on the involvement of patients and the parents of premature babies: for example, with the aim not only of making it easier to be a patient or caregiver, but also of improving the work environment for healthcare staff. 

- When we started our collaboration with Lillebælt hospital, our priority was to make our designs attractive and functional. We didn’t want the chair to look like the furniture you usually find in hospitals, which gives users the feeling of being hospitalised and ill. It was also important for the chair to help support and provide better conditions for growth in premature babies, says Poul Erik Jensen, VELA’s Sales and Marketing Director.

Development via user involvement
VELA, Lillebælt Hospital and other stakeholders contributed input, knowledge, research and innovation processes. The result is a chair, which caters for parents, premature babies and the needs and wishes of healthcare staff. So the chair accommodates working postures and tasks and helps reduce a hospital’s operating costs. 

The chair is also a constructive solution to lack of space. For example, hospital beds occupy much more space than a chair, and patients or parents of premature babies in outpatient care often feel ‘hospitalised’, when they have to lie in a bed. The chair can rectify this issue.

Three concise tips for success with a PPP
Public Private Partnerships (PPP), like the one between VELA and Lillebælt Hospital, require time, resources and persistence, but also provide long-term benefits for all parties involved: particularly for the people it is ultimately all about – patients and relatives.

- It’s really important to create a good basis for collaboration from the very start and to balance expectations. With a relatively complex development partnership involving major operators (for example, a hospital) you really have to watch your step and retain focus and vision, says Poul Erik Jensen.

He is in no doubt. Lillebælt Hospital’s demand to formalise the collaboration with a Public Private Innovation agreement laid a solid foundation for the development of the Rumba chair.

- The fact that the knowledge belongs to the project owners [Lillebælt Hospital and VELA, ed.], and the fact that the collaboration is documented and published create visibility, openness and, ultimately, clinical evidence that the chair has legitimacy. The fact that it can also be used in several departments and in other contexts is just an added bonus. For ourselves, patients and staff, says Poul Erik Jensen. 

He provides three tips when it comes to PPPs:

  1. Be aware of the time the project requires to become successful – and coordinate. You cannot change things willy-nilly, once the ‘big machine’ is up and running. It is a point of no return!
  2. Have patience and hold on to the vision – together.
  3. A highly developed innovation process provides much greater accuracy, so spend a lot of time at the beginning – and involve users very early in the process.


Photo: Charlotte Dahl

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Welfare Tech is​ co-financed by the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science and The European Regional Development Fund.

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