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Children-adolescents in mental health care

We are currently witnessing a significant focus on how to treat young people in mental health. Generally speaking children and adolescents are cared for in one unit, regardless of the nature of their condition. Design focuses on creating a home from home and the choice of colour, finish and creating themed areas are important in creating the right atmosphere for the young. Their treatment may take several months and personalisation of their own bedroom areas is vital in settling in and feeling at home.

“We used a great deal of Altro Whiterock wall cladding throughout the centre, both on walls and ceilings. It provides a seamless, hygienic solution that is very reliable. 
“In non-patient areas we selected the white Altro Whiterock for wet areas and splash-backs. For patient areas we went for the Altro Whiterock Chameleon, Altro Whiterock Satins and Altro Whiterock Illusions ranges, which gave us the flexibility to be much more colourful and create themes.”
Scott Stewart, Interior Designer at Medical Architecture, who designed Ferndene Children and Young People’s Centre

“The children chose different colour schemes for the four ward blocks, so that although the wards were merging into one facility, they each kept their own identity. This added a challenge for the designers to maintain the same finishes across the facility, using different colour options on each of the wards. 
“The colour variation in the Altro ranges provided great assistance to this process, and we were confident in the quality and durability of the products we were installing. The finishes are standing up very well against the day-to-day use you would expect in a hospital, and allow us to provide safe and well co-ordinated environments.
“The children were very excited to move into the new facility, along with staff, who were moving to new office spaces which much improved the opportunity of departmental integration.”
Danni Littlewood, Assistant Capital Projects Officer at Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

Key principles

  • Create a welcoming, non-institutional, environment designed for younger people
  • Create a safe environment for staff, patients and visitors
  • Create an environment fit for the delivery of appropriate treatment

Guide to design

Research is being carried out continually to identify best practice in design, but there are some key principles on which key stakeholders and designers agree.   This is intended as brief overview of the subject and does not constitute definitive guidelines. The product recommendations below do not constitute an exhaustive list and we would always recommend that you consult your Altro Consultant on specific project requirements.

Top tips for design in all areas

Design must take into account patients’ diverse needs and should aim to

  • Create a calm and non-hostile, non-institutional environment, making patients feel at home as much as possible
  • Instil confidence, encourage independence and rehabilitation
  • Use strong colour, finishes, themes and design that are age appropriate, but do not date too fast
  • Not alienate patients from their carers
  • Not lead patients to feel that they are being overly supervised or controlled
  • Include essential anti-ligature fittings and observation features as a host of conditions are catered for in the same unit

Reception areas

  • Create a welcoming, good first impression to reduce anxiety and make people feel at home
  • Design in ease of orientation to other key areas in the building

Product recommendations : Altro Suprema II, Altro Wood Safety, Altro Walkway Plus, Altro Whiterock, Altro Whiterock Chameleon, Altro Whiterock Satins and Altro Whiterock Illusions wall cladding

Corridors/ circulation areas

  • Incorporate way finding into the overall design to facilitate access and manage flow to key patient areas
  • Flooring should be impervious and fully bonded to the substrate
  • If spillages are a concern from patients / staff carrying liquids etc, install slip-resistant safety flooring offering the latest in PUR cleaning technologies to maintain cleanliness and hygiene
Wayfinding built into the overall design including Altro Whiterock Digiclad wall cladding at Salisbury Hospital Childrens Unit

Product recommendations : Altro Suprema II, Altro Wood Safety, Altro Walkway Plus, Altro Whiterock, Altro Whiterock Chameleon, Altro Whiterock Satins and Altro Whiterock Illusions wall cladding

Bedrooms/ wards

  • Enable personalisation of the sleeping area, without the possibility of damaging the environment
  • Use strong and bright colours to create a young, homely feel to aid sleep and reduce anxiety
  • Allow space for relaxation and visitors
  • Allow space for study, reinforcing the home from home feel
  • Flooring should be impervious and fully bonded to the substrate
  • Bedrooms should include an ensuite bathroom
  • Design should preserve the patient’s privacy and dignity, allowing them to feel safe and staff to observe as required

Product recommendations: Altro Suprema II, Altro Wood Safety, Altro Whiterock, Altro Whiterock Chameleon, Altro Whiterock Satins, Altro Whiterock Illusions, Altro Whiterock Digiclad wall cladding

Bathrooms/ shower rooms

Using Altro Whiterock Chameleon wall cladding as splashbacks
  • Eliminate any self-harm or ligature points
  • Flooring should be impervious and fully bonded to the substrate
  • Ensure that the flooring is slip-resistant from edge to edge, effectively sealed around walls and splashbacks, affording protection for both the patients and staff, who may or may not be wearing footwear, when moving about in areas that could be simultaneously wet and dry in patches
  • Ensure the safety flooring offers the latest in PUR cleaning technologies to maintain cleanliness and hygiene, promoting effective infection control
  • Avoid flooring and walling that are clinical in appearance
  • Create a calming environment in en-suite bathrooms with the use of products like Altro Whiterock Digiclad, which allow for the reproduction of soothing age-appropriate images, that can be replicated in bedrooms as images in other materials to achieve a cohesively themed environment

Product recommendations: Altro Aquarius safety flooring combined with Altro Whiterock Chameleon, Altro Whiterock Digiclad wall cladding

Dining rooms

  • Use slip-resistant flooring in eating areas where there is the risk of spillages
  • Specify an acoustic underlay or acoustic flooring to reduce noise in areas where the clatter of food trolleys can significantly contribute to ambient noise levels and patient distress

Product recommendations: Altro Suprema II, Altro Wood Safety, Altro acoustic underlay, Altro Whiterock, Altro Whiterock Chameleon, Altro Whiterock Satins and Altro Whiterock Illusions wall cladding

Kitchens/ ward serveries

  • Design should allow patient participation in appropriate kitchen tasks, while permitting staff observation
  • Sharp objects and items that could be used for harmful purposes should be securely stored
  • Flooring and walling should be impervious and fully bonded to the substrate to maintain hygiene
  • Welded joints will aid hygiene and the maintenance of cleanliness

Product recommendations: Altro Stronghold 30, Altro Whiterock White and Altro Whiterock Satins

Lounges/ education/ leisure areas

  • Flooring and walling should be impervious and fully bonded to the substrate
  • Design flooring and walling to aid relaxation and reduce anxiety
  • Use slip-resistant flooring in areas where there is the risk of spillages
  • Specify flooring which affords sufficient flexibility of function to enable the space to be subdivided for activities
  • Welded joints will aid hygiene and the maintenance of cleanliness

Product recommendations: Altro Suprema II, Altro Walkway Plus, Altro Wood Safety, Altro Whiterock, Altro Whiterock Satins and Altro Whiterock Illusions wall cladding

Treatment rooms/ pharmacies

  • These areas may be used for emergency treatments or for the administration of medicine and therefore may be prone to liquid / powder spillages. Ensure the flooring is slip resistant for staff and patient safety
  • Create a relaxed ambience through design to promote calm behaviour

Product recommendation: Altro Suprema II, Altro Whiterock, Altro Whiterock Chameleon, Altro Whiterock Satins and Altro Whiterock Illusions wall cladding

Skirting boards

  • In patient areas under intermittent observation coved flooring provides optimum safety
  • In patient areas under constant observation hardwood skirting boards or equivalent may be installed

Product recommendations: coved Altro safety flooring.

Doorsets

  • Allow staff observation as requiredAltro Whiterock Hygienic Doorset with vision panel
  • Prevent dismantling / removal of individual parts / breaking to be used for harm or as barriers
  • Design and installation should prevent ligature, finger-trapping, escape, hiding
  • Allow a two-way swing, in case a patient blocks one side of the door, it can be opened in the other direction
  • Colour co-ordinate with the design scheme for a calming effect

Product recommendations: Altro Whiterock Doorsets