Design in Mental Health

Design in Mental Health Network 13-14 May 2014

Improving Facilities. Transforming Attitudes

Architects for Health were delighted to continue their support of the Design In Mental Health Network conference. Our session featured 3 presentations that outlined innovative approaches to planning, sharing knowledge and designing for mental health services.

Sam McCumiskey, TIME Project Deputy Director for Merseycare NHS Trust, outlined an initiative developed by the Trust, called ‘a human rights approach’ to care based on FREDA – Fairness, Respect, Equality, Dignity and Autonomy. It sought to create ‘coercion-free environments’ and impacted on the way care was provided and managed as well as the design of the spaces in which it was delivered. Reflecting on the lessons learned, Sam pointed to the need for a clear vision to speed up approval processes, to be flexible and anticipate change. It clearly impacted on people as well as project management, on stakeholder relationships and was facilitated by the early mock-up of rooms and use of images to communicate the design implications.

The output of the CHAT initiative, a mental health forum of workshops involving over 80 people at two events, in London and Liverpool, was shared by Martha McSweeney, IBI Nightingale Principal and Practice Mental health Lead. She highlighted that mental health services constitute the single largest cost to the NHS, at 10% of it’s total budget and presented the compelling need for a step change in this sector. Intense workshop sessions involving discussion of specific issues culminating in a number of more specific outputs and projects, including an immediate aspiration to produce a “Little Book of Engagement Ideas”, where contributors have been invited to send in their suggestions on improving consultation and engagement through new tools and fresh approaches. A longer term project, is the “Information Repository”, which will take a little longer to establish, which is being led by Warwick University.
View the CHAT presentation here on SlideShare

An imaginative built interpretation of the much mentioned ‘Recovery Model’ of care was presented by Wendy De Silva, Director of P+HS Architects, in her scheme for Kingfisher Court. Alongside concerns for safety and security there is a strong emphasis on therapeutic needs both in the delivery of care and the design of spaces. This was manifested in the creation of privacy and dignity in bedrooms, a choice of spaces to support socializing, and the importance of the landscape setting to provide views and amenity. The careful placing of kitchens and fireplaces helped to denote a less institutional ambience creating comfortable and convivial places.
View the Kingfisher Court presentation here on SlideShare

All three presentations acknowledged the time it takes to explore and construct a vision and the need for designers to engage in communication through discussion, drawings and models to convey these new ideas whilst they are being explored.

Finally our thanks go to Rosemary Jenssen, Director of Jenssen Architecture Ltd and AfH executive member, for not only chairing this session but also being a very active part of the conference organisation.

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