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News archive - November 2016

Designing for cancer care

Designing for cancer care

A new MRI unit has opened at The Christie Hospital in Manchester, providing the very-latest in image-guided scanning technology.

Designed by DAY Architectural, the facility houses three new MRI scanners, replacing outdated equipment. The Christie Charity is now raising money for a fourth machine to further improve services for cancer patients in the North West.

Completed in July, DAY Architectural won the commission for its focus on a complete design package.

“The trust was looking to deliver the project through a turnkey contract,” explained project architect, Gary Lynas.

“After negotiations, we convinced them to steer away as we knew we could offer more value in terms of interior design than they would get with just a general design specification. This would help to improve services and enhance the patient experience, as well as reducing anxiety, particularly among younger and apprehensive patients.”

Patient pathways

Commenting on the importance of the MRI suite within the hospital, he added: “If you are referred to The Christie, the imaging suite is one of the first places you may visit and it informs your whole course of treatment from then on.

“This means it is very important to put a lot of time and effort into making it a welcoming and reassuring environment.”

As well as four scanning rooms, the building also has counselling facilities, a small interview room, and a number of clinical and administrative areas.

The starting point for the design was to consider safety, as patients and staff need to be protected from the powerful MRI equipment.

Following stringent design guidance, DAY Architectural developed a floorplan for the department that put patient and staff safety at the forefront, while developing an efficient and clearly-defined patient pathway for ease of orientation, staff observation, and operational control.

Built partly within an existing building, work had to be carried out while sensitive patient-led services continued to be delivered, directly above and immediately adjacent at ground-floor level.

“We built a new facility on the ground floor, which involved quite an extensive refurbishment and remodelling exercise,” said Lynas.

“We also designed and developed a single-storey extension to the rear of the building, which accommodates the four scan rooms, with rooftop plantrooms situated above to house critical M&E engineering services plant.

“It’s a deep footprint, but the design emphasises patient flow and experience.

“We wanted to draw as much natural light as possible into the building, so areas where patients will be sitting for long periods have floor-to-ceiling curtain wall windows to increase illumination and maximise external outlook. These have been really well received by both patients and staff.”

Quality interiors

Interior design is also a big part of the project, with fabrics and other materials chosen for softness, tone and quality.

Day Architectural was responsible for delivering the entire interior design package, inclusive of furniture specification and selection, working closely with the clinical leads.

“We have utilised timber where possible to give a feeling of quality and warmth,” said Lynas.

“The trust wanted to deliver a new facility for their patients and staff that would provide an interior of high quality to offer a feel of reassurance and calmness for their patients.

“It was also of importance to deliver a new unit which emulates the first-class clinical diagnostic work the MRI staff deliver day in, day out at The Christie.

“It had to be reassuring, welcoming, calming and high quality.”

The new unit has been designed and centred around the four seasons, with each one of the four scanner rooms having been allocated a season. This is portrayed literally within each room via a full-length digital clad wall print aimed at de-institutionalising the space.

Each room is equipped with a full-spectrum colour-changing LED lighting system which patients can control via a series of pre-set buttons.

“For example, in the Spring Room, if you press button 1, you will get a fresh spring feel in the room, while another button may turn it into a warm spring environment,” explained Lynas.

“Patients can choose their experience and make it personal to them. This helps to lower anxiety and offer some environmental control back.”

Project management for the scheme was carried out by Pick Everard, while M&E design was done by DSSR. Structural engineering services were supplied by Bertram Done and O’Neil and Partners was responsible for PQS. The main contractor was City Build Manchester.

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