Improving mental health for older people in a woodland setting

20-bed older people's mental health unit planned at Alderney Hospital in Poole

The planned new older people's mental health unit, designed by Medical Architecture, will benefit from a woodland setting

A new 20-bed older people’s mental health unit is being planned for the Alderney Hospital site in Poole, Dorset.

The county has one of the fastest-growing elderly populations in the UK, and the new facility will help the Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust achieve its objective of making the hospital a centre of excellence for elderly healthcare.

Designed by Medical Architecture, the new inpatient unit, which is subject to planning permission, will be located in the hospital’s attractive woodland setting.

As part of the scheme, timber from felled trees will be used to form an enhanced wheelchair-accessible woodland walk.

Ensuring the woodland is accessible to all enables staff, patients and the wider community to take advantage of the hospital’s mature woodland ecological setting for its therapeutic and calming benefits.

It will also help to counter the stigma associated with mental health, fostering a sense of natural recovery and pride in the facility.

Designed to communicate wellbeing, the new building will connect with existing wards on the same level.

And a linking canopy creates a shared welcoming foyer for visiting relatives.

The new plan is organised around a therapeutic garden at its heart, where abundant daylight, fresh air and natural planting provides an easily-supervised space for reflection, recovery and social interaction.

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