Designing better mental healthcare facilities

Stakeholder engagement is a major part in design

Mark Carter, Partner, and Victor Muniz, Architectural director at the firm, explain the planned consolidation of the new facility, and their approach to 21st-century mental health design.

As part of the wider strategic health estates initiative, international design practice, Ryder Architecture, is leading the transformative approach at Highgate in London for Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I), which recently won the DiMHN 2021 Service-User Engagement Award.

Currently, C&I has around 30 sites across its borough, including inpatient beds at St Pancras Hospital and the Highgate Mental Health Centre, and several community facilities, which are not designed to meet modern health and safety needs; nor do they provide an effective therapeutic environment. St Pancras Hospital was once a Victorian workhouse, and the buildings were never designed for mental healthcare. Many bedrooms are still shared, and access to fresh air from wards is very limited. Significant investment would be needed to maintain and upgrade the buildings to meet modern standards, and even then, facilities would not meet the requirements that both the Trust and design team have for service-users, and those set out by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The solution, the St Pancras Transformation Programme, focuses on supporting delivery of the Trust’s clinical strategy, by providing fit-for-purpose, accessible, and therapeutic environments for mental health recovery. A new hospital in Highgate will replace the ageing inpatient wards at St Pancras, alongside redeveloped community sites at Lowther Road, Islington, and Greenland Road, Camden, while a third community facility will be created at St Pancras. The Trust is releasing portions of land at its St Pancras Hospital site to generate the funds required to build the new hospital, and to invest into upgrading its community facilities. Community sites will be transformed to create integrated community mental health centres, which will support people to live well in their communities through access to mental health, physical health, and other recovery services, under one roof.

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