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Design in Mental Health 2018 event preview


Design interventions must truly aid recovery


A key theme at the Design in Mental Health 2018 conference – the annual DIMH conference, exhibition, awards, and dinner will again take place at the National Conference Centre in Solihull, from 15-16 May – will be the need for more clinical evidence that ‘interventions’ that impact the patient space actually aid recovery. There will also be an emphasis on projects that focused on personal, aesthetic, sonic, therapeutic, and natural space, with the speakers explaining the thinking behind them, and the resulting service-user and staff benefits.


One of the key members of the team behind this year’s Design in Mental Health Network conference is Jeff Bartle, a highly experienced estates and facilities professional who, in his last full-time role before taking ‘semi-retirement’ last year, spent 15 years in senior estate management roles with mental healthcare charity, St Andrew’s Healthcare. A member of the DIMHN Board, he is now a consultant to the mental health sector. He said of this year’s programme: “One of the main objectives in putting together the 2018 conference was to follow on from last year’s Design with People in Mind publication, authored by the leader of the DIMHN’s Research stream, Paula Reavey, Professor of Psychology at London Southbank University, and launched at last year’s conference. Our goal has been to pick up on some of the key themes of that report, with the emphasis on putting more clinical research findings behind how we design mental health spaces. The sessions this year reflecting on


good personal space, and what this space should look like’. Jeff Bartle added: “Although there is research supporting some elements of this, there is quite a bit missing. For example, an architect may well say that he or she has had useful feedback from a project, and will feed this into the next. However, how much clinical research is there behind this on how interventions are actually working to make patients better? Keen to more clearly identify the clinical reasons behind designing space in a particular way, we have a number of speakers from a clinical background speaking this year. “We are indeed keen to encourage more


people from a clinical background to get involved with the Network generally. Harnessing Professor Reavey’s expertise, we have begun putting together architectural and design-related research with clinical research.”


Design with People in Mind will thus cover personal space, sonic space, aesthetic space, therapeutic space, and natural space.”


‘TRAWL’ OF EXISTING DOCUMENTS To compile Design with People in Mind, Professor Reavey and her researchers scanned existing research documents, and extracted elements ‘to support what those designing for mental healthcare should be doing to create


REPORT ATTRACTED CONSIDERABLE INTEREST Professor Reavey said: “The Design with People in Mind publication, focusing on the impact of various sensory elements on the service-user environment and recovery, was sent to all attendees at last year’s conference, and has attracted considerable interest. A number of this year’s sessions are based around the report, but just before the 2018 DIMH event in Solihull this May we will publish a further research booklet, focusing this time on sound’s impact on service- users with different mental healthcare conditions. To be discussed at the conference, this was again commissioned by the Design in Mental Health Network, and is based on empirical research undertaken over the past year.”


POST-PROJECT EVALUATION STUDIES DIMHN chair, Jenny Gill added: “The conference will also draw on several post-project evaluation studies to see what useful lessons can be learned. Traditionally we have not been great at undertaking such studies in the UK. There is arguably a need for more standardised, more scientific approach, whereby those leading different projects ask the same questions to enable useful comparisons. This is something the Network hopes to look closely at in the future.”


The National Conference Centre in Solihull – the venue for the DIMH 2018 national conference, exhibition, and awards dinner.


FOCUS ON THE DIMHN’S WORKSTREAMS After a welcome to the conference’s first day by Jenny Gill, the first keynote presentation, ‘Who we are...Design in Mental Health Network’, will focus on the broad range of work being undertaken by the various DIMHH workstreams. The day’s second keynote address will be given


THE NETWORK APRIL 2018 17


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