Neerali and the sprout IV pole / by reid douglas

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A ground-breaking relationship between the Starship Foundation, Mercury Energy and AUT University has recently been announced. The relationship will focus on the development of a new IV pole device called ‘Sprout’, which will redefine the way children in Starship Children’s Hospital interact with this crucial piece of equipment.

The design, by AUT University postgraduate student Neerali Parbhu, has better ergonomic benefits, such as being easier to manoeuvre and less cumbersome for the child, but as importantly, it also helps create a more positive experience for kids, by using brighter colours and adding extra platform space for children to put their toys on.

Neerali, a 21-year-old product design student in the School of Art and Design, has firsthand experience of the difficulties children face in hospital.

She herself spent time in Starship Children’s Hospital undergoing treatment for cancer as a child.

“I’m so appreciative and excited to be working across two fields that not only interest me, but ones I have a real knowledge of. Product design is about empathising with the user, and this project is designed to help make life easier for patients and their families. I am ideally placed to help them with that.”

The project has been made possible by Starship Children’s Hospital, AUT University, the Starship Foundation and its Five Star sponsor, Mercury Energy.

The funding for the project is from Mercury Energy’s Star Supporters Club, where customers donate regularly to Starship through their monthly Mercury bill.

Dr Richard Aickin Director of Child Health at Starship Children’s Hospital says the Sprout IV pole improves the experience for children while in hospital.

Initial concept design for the Sprout IV pole

“We aim to make the Starship Hospital as child friendly and family centred as possible. Well-designed equipment like the Sprout IV pole can be less scary looking for children while still meeting our clinical needs.  We know that the hospital environment plays a big part in the experience of children who need to come here.  We expect that the Sprout IV pole will reduce stress and add a more playful feel to children’s immediate surroundings in hospital. This is an exciting partnership and it is a pleasure to be part of this unique opportunity.”

Senior lecturer in product design at AUT, Dr Stephen Reay, is excited about the collaboration between the parties, and about what it means for the patients at Starship.

“The project is about improving the experience of children and their families,” he says. “Not only to provide improved practical solutions, but also to create engaging objects that children (and their families) of all ages will be able to positively engage with, and become a key element of their hospital stay.”