Humans in the Design of Nursing Bags

This extended post is about Nursing Bags! YEAH!

Okay, it might sound like a humdrum topic… but nursing bags are in fact really important.  Their importance is only rising with with increasing care in the home.

What David Swann revealed at the IEHF conference is therefore surprising - current nursing bags have not essentially changed for 100 years.

The Old

The Current

It’s basically just a bag with a few random different slots.

They are the work environment of nurses.  Not a great don’t support the person to be organised.  

The main lesson of this blog is products and services must be designed to support people otherwise you can expect errors and frustration.  

Sometimes this as low consequences, like getting the wrong coffee size.

The consequence of bad nursing bag design is: 

  1. Reduced quality and speed of that care.   
  2. Disease transmission from lack of ability to clean effectively.  
  3. Poor organisation leading to medical/medication error a leading cause of preventable injuries and death in the western world.

Hippocrates would have a word or two to say about 2 and 3. 

Have I convinced you that nursing bags are a big deal?

David teamed up the Royal College of Art with the National Health Service to create (drum  roll):


They’ve termed it the iBag - a bit of a wanky name if you ask me.  But that’s not really the point. The point is it’s awesome.

This effort followed an amazing product design journey.  He’s termed it:

  1. Strategy
  2. System
  3. Experience
  4. Product

I’d add Validation.  Which he has done.

In short in it increases efficiency (saves dollars) and reduces errors and chance of infection/disease transfer (save lives).

All from a bag.

For a fuller story see his presentation from the IEHF here.  It is worth a flick through.  

Also for a video of the bag being pulled about see my previous post

Whilst this is amazing, I do think I have a simple idea that might take it to the next level… maybe.  

The next level being going product design to service design. 

When I asked David at the conference his consideration of design essentially stops with the bag.

Having been an Ergonomics guy for a hospital in a previous job I immediately started to see his drawers as patient specific.  This is because in hospitals, to prevent error, patients treatments are separated.

For example, individual patient medications are stored in trolleys like this: 

When treatment is a bit more than medication (eg dressings) then you get removable and baskets like this:

This allows a nurse to organise, plan and label everything before setting out.

So my addition? Have a drawer stack suitable for car trunks.

Each individual drawer of the bag looks like this:

Why not have a drawer for each patient and a place to store them in the trunk?

Then, before you head into each house on your trip you can pick the appropriate drawer and slide it into the bag.  The nurse would have everything they need and nothing more for each visit.

Here are some inspirational examples already on the market:


You could even have smaller nursing bags, or bags with more drawers.

In one final comment: I am hella jealous.  This what I want to do.  Really work on the ideation and design of game changing products.

At least David does prove that if you put humans at the centre of design, with a talented person who actually knows what this means, you get a great outcome.

Congratulations David.  You now enter the prestigious list of Heroes of HiD.

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