Northampton student in the running for global design award for her 'pit-stop' breaks for NHS staff

Ivana designed the SmileStop breaks as part of her second year uni course.
Ivana designed the SmileStop breaks as part of her second year uni course.

A Northampton student and designer of a ‘pit-stop’ for worn out NHS staff on long shifts is in the running for a prestigious global design award.

University of Northampton undergraduate Ivana Stefanova has been nominated for a 2018 RSA Student Design Award after devising her SmileStop concept, which aims to boost the wellbeing of nurses, doctors and other hospital workers.

Ivana's original designs for the SmileStop breaks for busy medical staff.

Ivana's original designs for the SmileStop breaks for busy medical staff.

Ivana’s SmileStops are small stop-off structures designed to give hospital staff a place help them reflect, chat, relax and laugh.

“A pit-stop is where racing cars stop during a race to refuel, change tyres and be repaired,” said Ivana, who is in the second year of her Interior Design degree.

“Similar to a pit-stop, the SmileStop offers staff a way of ‘refuelling’ while walking to their next job, helping them to fight stress, increase general happiness and improve mental health and wellbeing.”

Ivana has come up with a couple of designs for her SmileStops. The first is a semi-private booth where staff can have quiet conversations, take a break, spend a moment alone or enjoy activities on display: thank you notes from patients, stories and facts, drawings or calming nature scenes. The second takes the form of an activity wall, which can feature the same activities.

Ivana Stefanova is in the running for a prestigious national award.

Ivana Stefanova is in the running for a prestigious national award.

Ivana’s idea for the SmileStop came to her after she researched the pressures faced by NHS hospital staff. She found that a typical hospital worker walks 10 miles in a 12-hour shift, with two 15-minute breaks.

One-in-10 nurses quits NHS England each year and staff absences for mental health problems have risen by 22 per cent between 2012 and 2017.

She said: “I interviewed paramedics and a former nurse and they all loved the SmileStop concept. The former nurse told me it was a great alternative to staff rooms, which are often too busy, with people interrupting your break, they can be in a remote location that takes most of your break to reach, and often has a negative atmosphere.

Ivana, who is originally from Pleven, in Bulgaria, will find out in the summer if her concept will be recognised with an award.

The RSA awards are the longest-running global student competition which challenges emerging designers to tackle real-world social, environmental and economic issues.

The University has had two Interior Design students shortlisted for the 2018 competition, and two winners from the course in the past two years.