According to the People’s Daily newspaper, the Henan University No 1 Hospital in the city of Luoyang, Henan province has introduced a special area with sleeping pods for the family members of overnight patients.

Family members at the hospital are allowed to stay for free and can get a key to a room containing 10 capsule pods, after approval from a nurse on duty.

Each capsule, which is some two metres long and one metre wide and high, comes equipped with a phone so that visitors can speak to a member of medical staff at any time – even if it’s in the early hours. There are also lockable storage cupboards for valuables, and a public area for people to sit and watch television.

The capsules cost 4,000 yuan ($576; £448) each to install, and have been well-received by locals who have relatives in the hospital.

“Supplying us with a capsule, and allowing us to stay overnight – we think this shows such warmth,” one told the Pear Video news site. “Although it’s only small, it’s a very safe, private space.”

The scheme has also had widespread approval online. One user of the popular Sina Weibo microblog says “This should be promoted nationwide” and has received 1,000 likes.

“Family members of intensive care patients are under heavy financial and emotional pressure,” another user says. “This hospital comes close to providing them with a form of rest.”

Reporting by Kerry Allen

The ICU sleeping area
Image copyrightPEAR VIDEO Image captionFamily members of ICU patients can stay for free