Designing better mental healthcare facilities


Work begins on £7 m autism unit at Brooklands Hospital

Work begins on £7 m autism unit at Brooklands Hospital

Willmott Dixon has begun construction of a new Autism Secure Unit at Brooklands Hospital in Marston Green, Birmingham, which it says is expected to be one of the top facilities of its kind once operational.

The £7 m project – for Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust – will include the demolition of an existing building on the site, and the subsequent construction of a single-storey building incorporating eight en-suite bedrooms, one with a seclusion suite. Procured through Procurement Hub’s Major Projects framework, Willmott Dixon is part of a project team that includes architect, Design Buro. Dan Doyle, Operations director at Willmott Dixon, said: “Being a business with rich Birmingham heritage, it’s an honour to be playing a significant role in a local project that will enrich the community’s healthcare offering. The new building’s completion will enable Brooklands Hospital to provide a high-level service to its future patients in an environment that accommodates their specific needs, which is something we’re an expert in, and are pleased to have been brought in to deliver.”

With land prices and the cost of outward expansion the more expensive option, Willmott Dixon says redeveloping a disused area of the Brooklands Hospital site is ‘a strategic and cost-effective move’. Future occupants will be well catered for, with the secure unit ‘taking into consideration that distance from society is sometimes essential for recovering from negative experiences’.

The contractor says the new building will provide a safe environment, ‘with the bonus of optional social communal spaces that offer comfortable accommodation’. Willmott Dixon said: “It is particularly important for patients to have access to a safe communal space alongside self-contained areas to help with rehabilitation and avoiding prolonged periods of detrimental isolation. The balance and choice given to end-users has been strategically planned.” The facility will incorporate external features including an anti-climb roof, and 4 m perimeter fencing, while internal design elements incorporate high-quality ventilation and anti-ligature lighting.

Professor Ashok Roy OBE, Consultant Psychiatrist and Associate Medical Director at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “The new autism secure service fills the gap in service for a group of patients who have for a long time had poor access to services, and have therefore languished in unsuitable surroundings such as prisons and distant hospitals. It will now be possible to provide a specialised, local service for the West Midlands which provides appropriate skilled treatment, preparing autistic people to take steps towards well-supported community living to achieve rewarding and fulfilling lives”

The building will be heated by air source heat pumps, in line with the Trust’s commitment to no longer install gas-fuelled systems.


A service-user’s view on improving care spaces

Service-users’ lived experience in mental healthcare facilities can provide valuable insights. At June’s DiMH conference, Nick Smith, who spent a lengthy period as an inpatient at Bradford’s Lynfield Mount Hospital, reflected on some of his most challenging times.

Recognising best practice and innovation

The first evening of June’s Design in Mental Health 2022 event in Coventry saw 12 Design in Mental Health 2022 Awards presented – recognising excellence in categories ranging from Outside Space of the Year and Concept Product Innovation to Service-User Engagement and Estates and Facilities Team of the Year.

Overcoming the barriers to equal access for all

Giving a first day keynote presentation at June’s Design in Mental Health 2022 conference, Sarah Hughes, CEO of the Centre for Mental Health, discussed what she argued were some of the key priorities for designing a mental health system that offered equality of access to all, and some of the major barriers that need overcoming to achieve this.

Boosting staff safety and security at St George’s

Allan Aikman, Product (Design) manager at Pinpoint, a specialist provider of staff personal alarm systems, describes how the company provided ‘a 100 per cent reliable, easy-to-use’ such system for St George’s Hospital, the main treatment centre for acute mental health issues in South Staffordshire.



August 2022

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