Adult low secure services

Serving those detained under the Mental Health Act, low secure services aim to provide a positive experience of care, by placing the patient's needs at the centre of their care to support their recovery. Critical to the success of this aim is the provision of a safe, therapeutic environment which supports the development of relational security. Design aims to create a non-institutional feel, which contributes to the patients feeling at home and positive patient outcomes.

"Wolfson House required flooring and wall protection that was non-institutional and non-clinical. Patients invariably spend many years in the unit, so it's essential that the environment helps them feel comfortable, relaxed and at home.
"The products also need to be hard-wearing, safe, slip-resistant in certain areas and pass all the infection control and cleaning requirements – and of course they need to look good, too. We selected Altro because they have a strong range of products that are ideal for this type of application and meet all the specifications."
Interior Designer Makiko Sanabe-Buckley for Wolfson House, a new low security mental health unit in Hackney, London

Key principles

  • Create a homely, non-institutional, environment
  • 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

  • Create an environment which reduces stress and contributes to conflict avoidance between staff and patients
  • Create a homely, non-institutional, light and bright environment
  • Create an environment in which all rooms have a clearly identifiable purpose
  • Create an environment which supports the development of relational security
  • Allow for the provision of a low stimulus environment
  • Minimise the potential for fixtures and fittings to be used as weapons against others, barriers or for self-harm, including ligature
  • Reduce noise and echo in all areas to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Prevent and control the spread of infection and contamination
  • Specify finishes which enable easy cleaning, maintenance and hygiene. A well maintained environment delivers a caring message to the patients, their families and the staff, promoting patient recovery and enhancing staff morale
  • Specify finishes which enable easy cleaning, maintenance and hygiene
  • Facilitate access and safe movement around the built environment
  • Facilitate patient observation, while maintaining a balance between privacy and observation
  • Provide unrestricted visibility with no concealed areas
  • Provide facilities for visitors

Bedrooms

  • Single rooms rather than wards should be provided
  • Avoid a sterile, hospital look, create a homely feel to aid sleep and reduce anxiety
  • Areas should be bright, maximising the perception of space
  • 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 wall cladding.

Bathrooms/ shower rooms

  • 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. Specify products that create a homely feel

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

Kitchens/ ward serveries

  • Design should allow patient participation in appropriate kitchen tasks, while permitting staff observation
  • 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 resins, Altro Whiterock wall cladding

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 wall cladding.

Treatment rooms

  • 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 wall cladding

Corridors/ circulation areas

  • Provide wide corridors, enabling a minimum of three people to walk abreast
  • 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, or from patients who may suffer from incontinence, install slip-resistant safety flooring offering the latest in PUR cleaning technologies to maintain cleanliness and hygiene

Product recommendations: Altro Suprema II, Altro Wood Safety, Altro Walkway Plus, Altro Whiterock wall cladding.

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 Walkway Plus, Altro Wood Safety, Altro Whiterock 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 required
  • Allow for integrated blinds
  • Construction should 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 to prevent patients blocking entry 
  • Colour co-ordinate with the design scheme for a calming effect

Product recommendations: Altro Whiterock Doorsets