Personal Space: Interior design approaches to mental health bedrooms

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This is a design study exploring the design of bedrooms in mental health facilities, taking into consideration the needs of different key patient groups.

The bedroom is perhaps the most intimate built environment. In a hospital, a bedroom is the one place that is yours for the time you are there; a place to rest in safety, to recover. This takes on a particular significance in mental health settings where bedrooms, though not the primary location for treatment and care, need to be a home from home and your place of refuge. Designing mental health bedrooms that are at the same time safe and pleasant is a real challenge. These small spaces must deliver in a number of areas.

Whilst there are clear economies in standardisation, and benefits in terms of flexibility in use, in mental health bedrooms the “one size fits all” approach often does not do so. Therefore the ambition of this study is not to describe the “perfect” bedroom to be adopted by all but to examine how, through small changes to the specified elements and fit-out of a standard room footprint, the issues around differing needs and personal preferences can be accommodated such that the aims and aspirations for the patient environment can be met without ‘unhelpful variation’ unduly impacting future flexibility.

This design study is intended to aid client teams, and their designers, both in developing new facilities and when refreshing existing rooms.are an exploration of possibilities and practicalities based on the combined expertise of 17 mental health and estates professionals from across NHSScotland who are, or recently have been, involved in the development of a new inpatient facility. It summarises the learning through much deliberation in developing bedroom designs for their own projects, highlighting issues and successes as an aid for those just starting the process. In progressing the study the group developed ‘user briefs’ to describe the different types of demands that may be placed on a bedroom, and tested the design response to those briefs. The resultant approaches were felt to be both workable and inspirational – one of the representatives stated they were “better than anything I’ve seen from our designers” – and we trust they will help client teams in developing their own thinking, briefing and design development.

Download: Personal Space

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