The eClean™ bedside cabinet (1), designed by Kinneir Dufort and manufactured by Hospital Metalcraft Ltd (Bristol Maid), is a three-drawer hospital cupboard made from a durable easy clean polymer with a single skin design. It was developed as part of the Design Bugs Out initiative, a project commissioned by the Department of Health in 2008 and led by the Design Council. This project aimed to speed up the development and adoption of new technologies to address the issue of infection control in hospitals.
The immediate surroundings of a patient’s bed was one key area under consideration in the fight against infection. Existing bedside furniture was often difficult to clean due to its design and construction. Complex internal spaces, angular joints and poor choice of materials and surface finishes all contributed to the harbouring of dirt and bacteria.
A brief was issued to design a complete bedside system that was easy to clean and maintain and was cost effective and sustainable. The materials used were required to be durable and wipe-clean with a design that reduced corners and joints, possible sources of infection, with a design that offered secure patient storage space.
The eClean™ bedside cabinet addressed all these issues. The backless design eliminated hard to reach, and therefore difficult to clean, areas, and rotational moulding production removed the need for difficult to clean joints and seams. Choosing durable, recyclable medium density polyethylene (MDPE) for its production resulted in smooth, wipe-clean surfaces, and the incorporation of a RFID (radio frequency identification) lock, activated by a chip housed in the patient’s hospital ID bracelet, offered security without the drawbacks of a traditional lock. Every aspect of the cabinet that could be problematic in respect of infection control had been addressed and solutions found. Using polyethylene that could be rotationally moulded was key to this.
The cabinet won the Plastics Industrial Design Award and The Horner’s Award in 2010, and delivery of production units to hospitals started in the same year.