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New mental health unit designed to bring psychological benefits to elderly patients

11 Nov 10 The results of medical research have helped Race Cottam Associates create a new £11m mental health unit that is designed to bring psychological benefits to the elderly dementia patients it accommodates.

The showcase development at Walton Hospital in Chesterfield has been built as part of NHS Derbyshire County’s commitment to improving mental health care.

Medical research has shown exposure to nature can bring a number of psychological benefits for mental health patients and this provided a cornerstone for the design of the new building. The new accommodation is housed in two wings which feature an innovative figure-of-eight layout that encloses a courtyard garden which can be used by the patients throughout the year. Each of the linked wings incorporates 24 en-suite patient bedrooms plus a range of ancillary accommodation and shared therapeutic spaces. The design also eliminates ‘dead ends’ in the wards which might be confusing to the patients as they move around the building. Seating has been provided at various points and wide corridors have been incorporated to maximise the impact of natural daylight.

The project extends Race Cottam’s impressive reputation for delivering innovative and sustainable design solutions for NHS projects. “This was a classic example of the need to listen carefully to the client’s specific needs before we began to create and then deliver the most appropriate solution,” comments Tim Robinson, Race Cottam’s lead architect on the project.

“With a health sector development such as this it’s important to consider all the latest ideas such as the exposure to nature and to adopt those that are proven to bring real benefits to the end result.”

Construction work began on the scheme in February 2009 and Race Cottam Associates worked in partnership with contractors, Mansell Construction.

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