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mental health & dementia
News archive - May 2018
In hospitals and other care facilities, much of a patient’s time is spent in a bed or chair as they wait for tests or appointments or recover from treatment or injury.
Because of this heavy use, much research and development goes into the design of these furniture items, and there are key drivers in terms of specification.
Speaking to hdm, Liz Vesty, business development manager at Tough Furniture, explains: “Furniture designs are chosen depending on the particular needs and behaviours of the end user group.
“In mental health settings, it starts with looking at strength and durability.
“You have to include safety in all aspects of design - especially the avoidance of ligature risks and any other possibilities of harm to the service user and members of staff, which can be extremely varied.”
Other drivers such as infection control are also steering design.
Vesty said: “Infection control nowadays assumes much-greater importance than it once did, and while this is usually associated with superbugs in acute hospitals; it is also a high priority in mental health and dementia settings because of incontinence.
“Because of this, specification can get tricky - a bed might need to be heavy for strength and durability and to avoid it being picked up and thrown about; but simultaneously it needs to be easy to move for cleaning under if it’s not fixed down.”
In recent years, visual appearance has also become a hugely-important consideration.
“Once upon a time the brief was just to avoid looking institutional, but nowadays the built environment, especially furniture, is considered very much a part of the therapeutic process,” said Vesty.
“Options for storage under the bed are also important in designs as space is often at a premium in care settings and, in some circumstances, considerable amounts of spare bedding need to be kept to hand.”
Among Tough Furniture’s ranges are the Tough Original and Roxy beds, which are designed for hard use where there are no ligature risks; and the Tough Plus Bed, which is anti-ligature and has options for lockable storage underneath.
“We offer a totally-bespoke service,” said Vesty, “where beds are made to an individual customer’s specific requirements, for example we created a moveable bed which was requested by an NHS mental health trust in Scotland.
“For this, we designed and manufactured a simple ratchet truck to go under the bed and make such a move easy.
“We have also created a bespoke bed for children and adults on the autistic spectrum who value a semi-enclosed sleeping area because it gives them a sense of safety.”
Offering advice to specifiers, she added: “It is about understanding the precise requirements of the end user and the care management system combined with the value inherent in the true lifecycle cost.”
In the future, she expects bed design to further adapt, with a focus by designers on improving functional specification, for example the creation of fully-waterproof beds; as well as exploring the potential of new materials and manufacturing technologies.
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