Assessment suite for mental health patients transformed by Solent NHS Estates

A special place of safety for people detained by police under the Mental Health Act has been dramatically transformed by experts from Solent NHS Estates.

The redesign and refurbishment at Sevenacres on the Isle of Wight has provided patients and staff with a safe, secure and comfortable assessment environment.

Feedback from clinicians, service users, their carers and families was taken into account when planning the project, along with improvements recommended in the Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s latest CQC report.

The purpose-built facility, which has its own drop-off point, will be used when police detain someone under section 136 of the Mental Health Act because they believe that person may need immediate specialist care.

Patients will be able to receive prompt assessment in a dignified, confidential and welcoming environment which includes a much larger reception area.

The new-look suite also features a bedroom, an en-suite wet room, safe windows which allow natural air-flow and an area for making hot and cold drinks.

To help patients remain as calm and comfortable as possible, the suite has been decorated in a soothing palette of neutral tones and includes seascape artwork on the walls.

Karl Allen, Senior Project Manager with Solent NHS Estates and Facilities, said: “We worked closely with clinical staff every step of the way, from re-designing the layout to the final fixtures and fittings.

“We also took service user feedback into account during the design process which was essential for us to respond to specific details for achieving an optimum solution. This engagement was key to the success of this transformation.

“We had to ensure every aspect of the design worked and could be operated and maintained safely. This included ensuring staff had good sightlines for observation while at the same time patients had privacy, dignity and their own private space not overlooked by others.

“The structure and fittings needed to be robust and tamper-proof but at the same time able to allow good access for maintenance staff to be able to fix and maintain services which might otherwise be buried in the building fabric – creating problems at a later date when access is needed.”

Karl added: “As well as functional improvement, we wanted to create a pleasant and calming environment, achieved through spatial change, light, materials and colour.

“Working within existing buildings is never without its challenges, but getting things right is hugely rewarding when you see the benefits the scheme brings to both staff and patients.”

The bright, modernised space, which replaces a small and relatively dark suite painted in green and grey, has been highly praised by health professionals, police and service users alike on the Island.

Nikki Turner, Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Digital at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said: “We are very pleased with the outcome of this redesigned suite which provides a vastly improved modern, therapeutic area for our most vulnerable patients.”

Peter Hunt, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary’s lead for mental health, said: “It’s great to see that the ideas and views of so many have been taken into account in the upgrade and modernisation of this important part of the hospital.”


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