DIMHN workstreams

Workstreams’ activities and aimsset outin detail

This year’s Design in Mental Health conference saw wide-ranging attendance from NHS Trusts, mental health campaign groups, the architectural and construction supply chain, suppliers, academics, researchers, and others with an interest in the continuing provision of high quality, therapeutic mental healthcare facilities. In an opening session, leads and members of the DIMHN workstreams outlined both the goals of their workstream, and some of the ambitious and potentially far-reaching activities each is undertaking. The Network’s editor, Jonathan Baillie, reports.

Before introducing each workstream representative to the podium, DIMHN chair, Jenny Gill, thanked the conference committee for their input. She said: “It is great to have such a multidisciplinary representation, because in mental healthcare design really matters; it is not just a ‘nice to have’, but rather a vital element for everyone who uses or works in the facilities across the mental health sector. A really high quality, well-designed facility gives a good place for staff to work in, and, of course, crucially, improves patients’ recovery journey.” She went on to remind this year’s conference delegates that last year delegates had received a (then) new Design in Mental Health Network

publication, Design with People in Mind, authored by Professor Paula Reavey, one of the Network’s directors, who is Professor of Psychology at London South Bank University, research lead and consultant on projects at the Maudsley and Royal Bethlem Hospitals, and honorary research consultant at St. Andrew’s Healthcare. This booklet, Jenny Gill explained, had been ‘a snapshot of a review of evidence related to design in mental health’. This year DIMHN had ‘decided to focus on the sound issue’, and was thus launching a second DIMHN Design with People in Mind publication, The Sound Issue – ‘a snapshot of the evidence related to the impact of sound and how acoustic

We know that more clinical evidence on the advantages of good patient space is required, and hope this will help stimulate discussions

design can affect this’. Both publications would, she said, be available to DIMHN members in the Members’ Zone of the Network’s website, at

THEMED AROUND ‘SPACE’ This year’s conference, Jenny Gill explained, was around ‘space’ – ‘a major contributor to recovery or not’. Conference sessions over the event’s two days would thus focus on the impact of space in five areas – ‘Personal space’, ‘Sonic space’, ‘Aesthetic space’, ‘Therapeutic space’, and ‘Natural space’, while another session would examine the need for Post-Implementation Reviews as a way to measure the impact on staff and service-users of a new facility’s design, and to identify how successfully the design and features were ‘working’ once the new healthcare facility was up and running. Jenny Gill said: “We know that more clinical evidence on the advantages of good patient space is required, and hope this will help stimulate discussions.” Before closing her short welcome address, the DIMHN chair also highlighted a change of venue for the DIMH annual conference, exhibition, and dinner, in 2019. Next year the event will be held at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena – a venue Jenny Gill said offered the scope to grow both the conference and the exhibition, with the exhibitors set to be in one hall for the first time.

The presentations on the various DIMHN workstreams gave delegates a useful update on each’s current activities and key goals.


THE BOARD AND ‘WORKSTREAMS’ Having set the scene, the DIMHN chair explained that the first presentation ‘proper’ would look to explain a little more about the Network’s Board – ‘who we are and what we do’, and to describe some of the current work of the various ‘workstreams’. She said: “You may be wondering what we do. Well in fact we meet every six weeks, and this year initiated a series of CPD visits tying in with our Board meetings. We have planned visits to members scheduled over coming months, taking us right up to the end of this Board’s year. We also attend other conferences, such as the NAPICU annual conference and IHEEM’s Healthcare Estates, and have lots of workstreams.” The DIMHN’s vision was, Jenny Gill said, ‘very simple’. She elaborated: “We want to bring everybody interested in mental healthcare environments together, and to improve the environment in which people are treated and in which people work.” Turning to the DIMHN’s membership, Jenny Gill explained that this currently included 35 commercial organisations, 33 Trusts in England, and five Trusts elsewhere in the UK, three private sector providers, 30 university academics and students,

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