The traumas of isolation cells

Wang Long Li
Graduation project
December 2012 - July 2012
Company: Philips
Supervisory team: Marijke Melles and Pieter Desmet
Contact: Wang Long Li | wanglongli@gmail.com

The Netherlands is the winner when it comes to seclusion of patients with mental disorders (psychosis and autism). Each year 18.000 patients end up in these little rooms spending days, weeks or sometimes months counting seconds watching an empty wall. The reason for this? “Safety for his own good and the low stimulus environment calms the mind”, accords to most clinicians in psychiatry.But the opposite is true for most of the cases; many people who experienced seclusion found it a traumatic experience en felt harmed in their human dignity. The low stimulus environment is mind destroying and the way they were treated harmed their interpersonal trust for the clinical staff. And this creates a downward vicious spiral of misunderstanding, cautious attitude and higher risk of escalation with more use seclusion as result.

Geestelijk Gezondheidszorg Eindhoven (GGzE) recognizes this and started early 2011 a pioneer project to break through this web surrounding the isolation cell. The result is a new open approach to clients, treating them with personal care. A new high care department is built equipped with the ‘Sensory Rooms’, a comfortable interactive space which reflects the new approach of open personal care. These Sensory Rooms are developed together with Philips Ambient Experience and focuses not in taking away possible negative stimulus, but on providing the right stimulus.

For his graduation within Philips, Wang Long Li took up the challenge to design the desired interaction for the new Sensory Rooms to provide a positive experience to help both client and the clinical staff during period of seclusion. Wang started his project in December and expects to graduate in July.