DIMHN workstreams

12 international members, and 60 ‘others’ – including service-users, carers, designers, ‘and third-sector providers etc.’ – ‘quite a big membership, with very different areas of expertise’.


The DIMHN chair went on to explain some of the key member benefits, which she said included the opportunity to share expertise and learnings, receipt of the quarterly DIMHN magazine, The Network (with the opportunity to advertise at a reduced rate), a dedicated ‘Members’ zone’ on the DIMHN website, discounted access to the conference and exhibitor rates, and use of the DIMHN member logo on the company website. She next turned to the DIMHN’s various workstreams, each led by a director. Among the worksteams’ successful outcomes to date had been the two aforementioned booklets, plus the new guidance document, Design Guidance for Psychiatric Intensive Care Units 2017, jointly developed with the National Association of Psychiatric Intensive Care and Low secure Units (NAPICU), and launched at the 2017 DIMHN conference.

Jenny Gill explained that she heads up the joint workstream with NAPICU, adding that this year the two organisations would be looking at a research project focusing on seclusion, with a view to developing evidence-based guidelines. She said: “To undertake this particular research effectively we clearly need funding. We spent some time looking into possible avenues without success, but to get the project off the ground, and possibly attract funding as we progress, the two organisations have agreed that we will put in a small amount of money and get the project up and running.” It will be led by Dr Paula Reavey on the DIMHN’s behalf, and by Dr Hamid Alhaj from NAPICU. Here the DIMHN chair said she would hand over to Dr Reavey, who would discuss the work of the DIMHN’s Research & Education stream.

RESEARCH & EDUCATION STREAM Professor Reavey explained that she would provide some background on the work of the Research & Education stream over the past year. She said: “As Jenny mentioned, one of the projects getting off the ground with NAPICU involves investigating the use of seclusion rooms in a PICU, to try to understand the environment, and the fundamental cues leading up to people’s entry into seclusion, as well as to gain a sense – using an experience-led approach – of why people are put into seclusion, in terms of

very much experience-led, rather than an imposition of design onto the people that then live and work in those spaces. It’s a question of trying to combine academic practice and clinical work in a meaningful and evidence-based way. We are also keen to generate novel empirical research; I lead on a research group at my university, and the idea is to bring in the Design in Mental Health Network and develop further projects in collaboration with NHS Trusts and other significant bodies.”

Professor Paula Reavey, one of the Network’s directors, who is Professor of Psychology at London South Bank University, heads the Research & Education workstream.

staff opinions, but also the experience of the patient, i.e. ‘What does it feel like to be in seclusion?’, ‘How much do patients understand their entry into seclusion?’, and ‘The purposes of that entry’.” Professor Reavey explained that the plan was to apply for funding from Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, with a view to developing a much large funding bid to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Elaborating on why a Research & Education

workstream is so important, Professor Reavey said: “I think it is vital that we build an evidence base that informs decision-making. Sometimes decisions are made and the decision-making process is unclear, so this workstream’s goal is to develop that evidence base – via the literature reviews we have done and the booklets we believe will have an impact on people’s decision-making in the future, using evidence from research.”

MAKING THE FINDINGS ACCESSIBLE She continued: “One of my passions is to ensure that the research we promote and deliver is accessible. One of the Board members mentioned that academic work is often very dry, and I tend to agree. We must thus make our mode of delivery accessible, so people will read the findings and apply them. We won’t do that by simply pointing people to journal articles. One of this workstream’s other aims is to generate discussion around what constitutes good design. For me that must start with the people using the services, so my approach is

Research & Education –Aims of the workstream • Develop an evidence base that informs decision-making.

• Establish an easily accesible body of work that integrates people’s lived experience of the environment with academic and practice-based knowledge from a wide variety of relevant disciplines – psychology, design, psychiatry, architecture, service-user literature, and geography.

• Generate discussions that inform academic research, practice, and clinical work.

• Produce novel empirical research that can be directly used to improve environments for service-users and staff.

THE ‘SOUND ISSUE’ The Professor went on to talk about the launch of the latest DIMHN publication, The Sound Issue (see also page 8), which she said the Network hoped would be relevant to architects, designers, and people working and living within mental health services. She expanded: “This year we developed the idea of how important an acoustic environment is – ‘How does sound impact on people’s experience?’; ‘Does it make them feel anxious and stressed?’, when in fact the environment should promote healing and recovery?’ The focus of this second new publication is thus very much to go beyond looking at a space’s aesthetics, to really understanding the entire environment – its multimodal spaces – and how sound very much impacts on people’s sense of wellbeing.” Professor Reavey said the workstream had also been conducting extensive literature reviews, and drew attention to a new book, The Handbook of Mental Health and Space: Community and Clinical Applications, edited by her and Laura McGrath, with contributions from some members of the DIMHN, which she noted would be published this month (July). She added: “This publication has helped us to develop links with organisations such as St Andrew’s Healthcare and NAPICU, and I am also doing a lot of work with London’s Maudsley Hospital, both in London and Abu Dhabi. The idea is to try to generate a cross-cultural and international flavour for our empirical projects.” The Research & Education workstream had also ‘been very busy this year’ putting together a major funding bid for the Cross Council Mental Health Network Plus bid on mental health, where she and her workstream colleagues would be proposing ‘the idea that if we want to promote mental health, we need to do that everywhere, i.e. every space needs to incorporate the idea of wellbeing’. She added: “Next year we also plan to deliver further empirical projects relating to space in mental health.”

TESTING & INNOVATION Describing some of the work of the Testing & Innovation workstream was its lead, DIMHN director, Philip Ross, who began by updating delegates on the joint work ongoing for the past four years with the UK’s leading built environment research organisation and consultancy, BRE, to develop product testing standards that would test and verify the performance of products destined for mental healthcare use (see also pages 25-27). He said: “Our ambition is to create an independent, repeatable method of assessing the performance of products in the mental health environment. In pretty much every sector of


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