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Nurture by Steelcase Wins Nightingale Award for Empath Recliner at HCD 2011

Nurture invested more than 2,000 hours of observation, photography and video research into the recliner's development


NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Nurture® by Steelcase has earned a fourth prestigious Nightingale Award at the annual Healthcare Design 2011 Conference for its new recliner, Empath™.

For Empath, Nurture considered caregivers as “users” as much as patients and created a recliner that offers a variety of versatile, insight-driven design features to accommodate the needs of both.

Nurture’s Director of Product Design, Alan Rheault says, “by putting ourselves in their shoes and being empathetic to the realities of both patients and caregivers, Empath creates a safer, higher quality healthcare experience for both. It is truly a complete healthcare solution.”

For its latest product design, Nurture invested more than 2,000 hours of observation, photography and video research into what occurs between patient and caregiver as it relates to the recliner—a central component of patient care and recovery. This study of how recliners are used led Nurture to a simple conclusion—recliners needed to do more to help reduce risks to patients and caregivers.

“Watching caregivers transfer patients from the bed to the chair and back again was an ‘a-ha’ moment for the research and design team,” says Rheault.

For the patient, moving to the chair is a crucial step toward wellness. They are one step closer to going home. At the same time, patient transfer is an inherently difficult, dynamic process. It’s dynamic due to the sheer number of times a patient is moved from the bed to the chair and then back again. Factor in the physical limitations of the patient and the potential for injury—to patient and caregiver—is clear.

Researchers witnessed caregivers straining backs and patients bruising hips during bed-to-chair transfers. Malfunctioning or easily broken mechanisms caused even more discomfort and difficulty. “In essence, our role is to turn our careful observations into insight-based designs,” says Rheault. “This leads to better, safer, higher quality healthcare experiences.”

For caregivers, Empath offers a newly-designed central lock mechanism that can be activated from the front on either side and makes this recliner intuitive and easy to use. Optional dual folding arms allow for easy patient transfers from either side. A drainage bag holder and IV pole are integrated into the chair for increased functionality and as an additional safety feature, Trendenlenburg is also available.

For patients, highly-durable, yet soft “I-skin” arm material helps reduce injuries. Long, easy to reach reclining paddles and an optional adjustable headrest give patients comfort and control. Sculpted grip arms assist in getting in and out and make the chair a welcome destination.

The 2011 Nightingale Awards honor new healthcare products introduced to the U.S. market since November 2010. They are awarded based on the product’s contribution to the quality of healthcare, functionality, quality, aesthetics, environmental sustainability and pricing, and are judged by a distinguished panel of interior designers and architects that specialize in healthcare design. 

This is the fourth Nightingale Award for Nurture, with the company’s Opus™ Overbed Table, SYNC™ centralized and decentralized workstations and Pocket™ mobile workstations as previous award winners.