For the 2nd year running, a Product Design and Technology student from the University of Limerick has won the Irish leg of the 2012 James Dyson Award. Paddy Mulcahy was awarded the prize for his design U-neat – an integrated hospital locker and table system. The design featured seam-free filleted surfaces which elimate corners for bacteria to build and can be easily sanitised to limit the spread of HCAI’s (health care associated infections). In 2011, the award went to fellow UL Product Design and Technology student, Chris Murphy for his innovative access system for swimming pools.
Paddy has just completed the Bachelor Degree in Product Design and Technology at UL and is set to graduate with first class honours at this weeks conferring ceremonies. He was determined to make improvements to the Irish Health Care system by tackling this problem.
Paddy explains; “The existing furniture is a breeding ground for bacteria. Too often people admitted to hospitals contract further serious illnesses. Going to hospital shouldn’t mean putting your health at greater risk."
Last year he began conducting on-site research into HCAI’s in hospitals, consulting with medical staff and interviewing patients. His research showed that over 70% of the spread of infections in hospitals was due to surface-to-person transfer of bacteria.
Paddy built various functional prototypes of the design and then sourced a hospital bed in order to accurately test these prototypes with different users. A model ward was available on the UL campus for testing in the real environment.
U-neat has completely redesigned the hospital bed table and locker with easy-clean features. It has seam-free, filleted surfaces, which eliminate corners for bacteria to build, facilitating easy cleaning.
Every surface of U-neat is easily accessible for sanitising due to the table’s ability to rotate 360 degrees and the capacity for the drawers to be fully removed to access inside the unit. U-neat also provides seating for visitors, which helps to create a controlled environment for seat allocation.
U-neat will progress to compete against leading innovations from the 18 other participating countries. The international winner will be selected by James Dyson and announced on November 8th 2012.