Design of new facility provides a healing environment for people with acquired brain injuries
Historically, adults with acquired brain injuries and associated neurological conditions would typically have been treated in nursing homes or mental health units if they required long-term care.
But a new specialist facility in Hampshire is helping to set a benchmark, providing a home-from-home environment tailored to the very specialist needs of the patients.
Designed by Oxford Architects on behalf of specialist care home provider, Dolphin Care, Kingfisher House in North Baddesley is due to open later this year and will provide 880sq m of space laid out over two floors.
One of the key considerations for the design team was the site, which is semi rural, bordered on three sides by agricultural land and on the other by woodland. This is important as patients often spend a lot of time in their bedrooms, so will have a therapeutic view to help stimulate the senses.
The proposed development will offer high-quality living accommodation and bespoke nursing care within an environment that will promote recovery and rehabilitation
Nick Heather, managing director of Dolphin Care, told BBH: “When we first looked at the design, the key consideration was that the building should be as far from a clinical institution as is possible, given that it is a large building and still needs to function as a medical facility. It is about creating somewhere that you would like to live yourself, rather than somewhere you can’t wait to get out of.
“We wanted it to be as homely as possible, particularly as this will help with rehabilitation by providing an environment much more similar to how it would be for a patient at home.”
The surrounding landscape is brought closer through the design of the building itself, which draws on the details of a traditional barn-type facility, using natural materials such as seasoned oak featheredge cladding, reconstituted slate, natural through-colour render and timber fascia boards and barge boards.
The way the building has been designed in line with the patient pathway is evident from arrival, with the more public areas located at the front of the building and the environment becoming more private the deeper you walk through the space, improving privacy and dignity for residents.
The 12 bedrooms are split over two floors, with less able-bodied residents housed in five units upstairs, where they are afforded views over the surrounding landscape. Each of these rooms has been designed to include discreet hoists for aiding movement, and window sills throughout the facility are lowered so that patients confined to their beds have an unrestricted view out. A sensory room will also be provided upstairs, as well as a rehabilitation kitchen, where residents can regain the skills they will need when they return home.
We wanted it to be as homely as possible, particularly as this will help with rehabilitation by providing an environment much more similar to how it would be for a patient at home
Downstairs, the rooms each have a private garden area; another design concept aimed specifically at people with acquired brain injury, providing both a relaxing setting to aid recovery, and also a potential rehabilitation tool as residents can get involved with maintaining the plots. The colourful, sensory spaces have been design by TPM Landscape.
Heather said: “What we have tried to do with the design is to facilitate recovery, not just for those people who will be there full-time, but also for those who need rehabilitation for just a few weeks or months.
“We have made the design flexible, so that people can personalise their space and have a feeling of ownership, with consideration given to rehabilitation at every stage. There are lots of communal spaces, but also residents can have time on their own and with their loved-ones.”
Matthew Balaam, a partner at Oxford Architects, which worked with project management team, FED3 Projects, on the design, added: “First impressions are crucial with this type of development. We have designed the building so that residents and their families arrive within a calm and peaceful environment as soon as they get here.
“It is about creating a building and a space that is beautiful and landscaping is an important part of that. A key element of this scheme is that residents get to look out over the surrounding fields and woodland from their bedsides.
“The patients’ rooms have a homely feel to them and have been designed so that they provide a sense of personal space. We took this from evidence gained back in the 1960s when high-rise flats were popular and it was evident that what little space residents could call their own was very important, such as a balcony. We are trying to do the same with this development, giving all residents on their ground floor their own personalised garden in what is a much larger space.”
Clinical spaces such as consultation and treatment rooms have also been sensitively designed and colours throughout the building have been kept neutral, instead using natural daylight and sensory lighting in specific areas.
First impressions are crucial with this type of development. We have designed the building so that residents and their families arrive within a calm and peaceful environment as soon as they get here
Heather said: “Historically, if you look at living conditions for people with brain injuries or associated conditions, people were treated mainly in nursing homes or mental health units. It is only in the last few years that specialist centres have been thought of as required and what we are creating is a unit specifically for people with acquired brain conditions and injuries.”
A submission for planning permission for the development was submitted by Turley Associates and was granted last month. This paves the way for work to begin on site this spring.
Balaam said: “The proposed development will offer high-quality living accommodation and bespoke nursing care within an environment that will promote recovery and rehabilitation.”