Hospice Casa Sperantei
On Endo’s second day in Romania she was given a
tour of the hospice itself, a live-in facility for children
and adults receiving palliative care. The Fellow was
shown a modern, well-equipped facility, staffed with
friendly professionals. To Endo, the place felt more like
the home of a large, cheery family than an institution.
These impressions were in stark contrast to what she
had expected from her earlier review of the NGO’s print
materials and web site, which presented a competent
yet dreary service provider.
Also in the first week a mobile homecare team invited Endo to accompany it on a suburban visit. At the house a family member was suffering from extreme pain due to a brain tumor. His breathing was labored; his vision had failed. With great sensitivity the hospice team informed the family that this, most likely, was an end of life situation. The family accepted the team’s advice that although an heroic medical intervention might prolong life, it would more likely increase the patient’s pain and further compromise his dignity. The family agreed that the best course at this point would be to take measures at home to ease the patient’s suffering rather than return him to the hospital. The Sperantei team provided tablets of time-release morphine that would relax the patients lungs and allow him to breathe more freely, increasing his comfort in what might be his last days or hours. The hospice team supported the family spiritually and emotionally through this difficult moment of decision and with great care.
After this profound experience, on return to Brasov, Endo felt powerless and depressed. However, she soon experienced a new resolve: perhaps her skills as a designer could make a small yet significant contribution to the vital services that Casa Sperantei provided? She could help the organization with a new graphic identity that reflected its sensitivity, warmth, and humanity while continuing to convey its broad capacity and competency in palliative care.
Endo dove into a review of the current print materials to find a mixed bag of logo treatments, a variety of typefaces, color schemes, and imagery. Her job would be to lend style and impose order on the graphic look so as to give the organization a strong, coherent identity. As educating palliative care workers was as much a part of the hospice’s mission as providing care to patients, the new branding would also provide for a complementary look to the organization’s educational materials. As for web communications the organization was not ready to hire a full-time developer or a media specialist due to lack of resources; therefore, any future online development needed to be easily updatable by staff with general computer skills, but lacking in design training. Another problem with the existing web site was that it was not robust enough to support an online education platform, one of the organization’s long-term goals.
Endo prepared a comprehensive presentation to the
hospice’s board on the challenges in updating the
organizations communications. Her proposals were
approved. Endo and the team tackled the web site first.
A staff member translated it into English. Then the team
worked with the Fellow to reorganize the site structure
to provide a more logical flow of information and ease
of navigation, as well as new, more up-to-date content.
Staff members, including nurses, the psychiatrist,
physiotherapist, education coordinator, PR officer,
volunteer coordinator, and more were invited to submit
content. Without a copywriter this approach was the best
way to paint a comprehensive picture of the hospice’s
services and operations.
After a review of out-of-the-box, open source, content management systems, Endo and Casa chose Wordpress because of both its robust capacity and moderate learning curve, which could be quickly mastered by Casa staff and maintained once the Fellow returned to the U.S. Remaking the graphic identity proved to be more difficult than revamping the online presence. It turned out that earlier attempts to rebrand had been stalled by experienced hospice staff who were much attached to the current logo that showed edelweiss, flowers that symbolize perseverance. This symbol had been used as a motif since the hospice opened in 1992. Endo’s attitude toward the imagery evolved as she realized that the hospice and its edelweiss were symbols of hope for the city. The Fellow decided that indeed there was no need for a complete makeover; instead what was needed was a refinement.