The Prince Charles Hospital Critical Care Research Group
Chermside, Queensland
Traditional custodians of the land
Turrbal and Yuggera People

About the project

The ICU of the Future represents a new model of healthcare designed to help Intensive Care Unit patients not only survive, but thrive. The project team have redesigned and rebuilt two ICU bedspaces at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, optimising the environment to enable the provision of best practice care and improve staff wellbeing and patient outcomes. The initiative is highly scalable with relevance to all ICUs worldwide and will result in wide-ranging benefits to individuals, healthcare organisations, and society.

ICU of the Future, Conrad Gargett, Health, Hospital

Design Strategy

Annually, millions of patients are admitted to Intensive Care Units worldwide at a huge societal and personal cost. While most survive their ICU admission, many experience cognitive, physical, and/or psychological impairments negatively affecting their quality of life.

Evidence indicates that features of traditional bedspace environments such as noise, suboptimal lighting and lack of views contribute to preventable adverse patient outcomes.

The project team engaged in an extensive consultation process with both clinicians and former ICU patients to inform the redesign of the ICU bedspaces, specifically addressing these problems.

Key design initiatives include:

  • Digital windows/skylights to provide distraction therapy and encourage rest/recovery
  • Bespoke lighting solutions to support circadian rhythm
  • A less clinical design, more homely design
  • Significant alarm and noise reduction, particularly at the patients’ head, through use of anti-infection acoustic panels and silent alarm technologies
  • Reduction of light penetration into bedspaces to promote sleep
  • Technology enabling staff to provide best care and allowing patients to connect with their loved ones and the outside world

Integrated, modular technology has been utilised within the existing bedspace footprint that can be adapted to the patients’ unique and changing needs and personal preferences. Clinical staff are able to tailor the environment, such as the quantity and quality of light, thereby utilising the space as part of the active care of patients.


ICU of the Future, Conrad Gargett, Health, Hospital

The ICU of the Future is expected to significantly improve patient and family experiences, shorten length-of-stay, reduce delirium incidence and common post-ICU complications, decrease hospital costs, increase ICU bed availability, and help patients return to a better quality of life and work.

A quieter and improved workspace could also improve the ability of staff to perform clinical duties, increase work satisfaction, reduce burnout/turnover and promote staff retention.

ICU of the Future, Conrad Gargett, Health, Hospital