Evidence-based guide to making sound choices

Last May’s launch – at DIMH 2017 – of the first in what the DIMHN intends will be a series of concise but informative evidence-based guides to improving various elements of the mental healthcare environment, was followed this May by the unveiling of a second publication, focusing this time on the impact of sound on all those using such spaces.

May 2017 saw the launch – at the 2017 DIMH annual conference – of Design with People in Mind, a booklet compiled by members of the Network’s Research & Education Stream, led by Paula Reavey, Professor of Psychology at London South Bank University (LSBU), Jeff Bartle, former head of Design at St Andrew’s Healthcare (and, like the Professor, a DIMHN Board member), and Katharine Harding, an associate at Conran and Partners and doctoral researcher at LSBU. This first booklet examined how elements such as high quality personal space, control over the environment, suitable therapeutic facilities, access to nature, attractive aesthetics, and good acoustics, can significantly aid inpatient mental health recovery.

The authors say they have ‘gone beyond describing acoustic design as something separate from the individuals who occupy environment,’ and instead examined ‘a range of issues specific to mental health’ – including sleep, privacy, confidentiality, aggression, stress, ‘and ultimately recovery’. Their research suggests that ‘much can be done to encourage relaxation, increase positive mood, and promote a greater sense of connection with others, through natural sounds’. The authors say: “Research indicates that the ambience and atmosphere of a unit can be transformed by small acoustic adjustments that improve not only relations between staff and patients, but also serve as non-pharmaceutical, and even therapeutic, interventions.”

This year’s booklet, Design With People in Mind: The Sound Issue, was again compiled by Professor Reavey and Katharine Harding, and highlights how acoustic design ‘can dramatically affect the way we feel about ourselves and other people, reduce or increase stress levels, and even alter our behaviour and physiology’.

Their ‘investigation of existing evidence’ on the impact of sound suggested that ‘considerations of sound in mental health were limited’; their aim has thus been ‘to ‘identify a range of vital issues relevant to general healthcare, as well as mental healthcare environments’.

DH-endorsed ‘interactive’ healthcare ‘colour palettes’ launched

In support of this year’s Dementia Action Week – the Alzheimer’s Society’s annual awareness campaign which ‘asks everyone to take actions big and small to improve the lives of people affected by dementia’,

Dulux Trade launched its new ‘evidence- based’ Healthcare Colour Palette as part of its commitment ‘to ensure that all healthcare environments are as dementia- friendly as possible’.

The Palette is ‘based on extensive research’.

Dulux Trade said: “In collaboration with ProCure22 (P22) and Tarkett Flooring, this comprehensive colour scheming tool will help hospitals improve interior environments across a variety of room types – including giving enhanced accessibility for patients living with dementia and other mental health conditions.”

The new DH-endorsed ‘interactive’ Healthcare Colour Palettes include a design ‘Co-production’ in mental healthcare delivery

‘Co-production’ in the design and delivery of mental healthcare was the central theme at an evening event held in June at London’s Dragon Café in Borough, reports DIMHN President, Joe Forster, who attended. He explained: “Professor of Democratic Mental Health, Mick McKeown, and his colleague, Professor Karen Wright, from the University of Central Lancashire (where DIMHN has its early roots), explained that ‘co-production’ is the vision behind their new book, Essentials of Mental Health Nursing, newly published in print and online by Sage. This innovative textbook involved student nurses and service-users among its authors and production team. The chapter on environments was written by me with two service-users – Dr Rob MacDonald and Ian Callaghan, and student nurse, Sarah Loughran. The book features both DIMHN and Mental Fight Club, which runs the Dragon Café, and


whose late founder, Sarah Wheeler, presented at a past DIMH conference, as exemplars of co- production. Alongside speeches from myself and Mick McKeown, Sarah Loughran presented the Dragon Café’s Declan McGill – who is also Mental Fight Club’s communications manager – with a copy of the book and a certificate. “Sarah Loughran, now a staff nurse with

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, explained that while our chapter is just one of over 40 in this extensive book, it provides a fifth of the entries for ‘co-production’ in the index. Dragon Café patrons joined in with a spirited and wide-ranging debate on how policy and practice have affected their own and others’ experiences of mental healthcare. Artist Katharine Lazenby, congratulated for winning the Spring/Summer 2018 Dentons Art Prize just days before, then presented a compelling account of her own experiences of mental healthcare and

the ways that environments – good and bad – had contributed. She then described how she now uses co-production, with charity, Hospital Rooms, to create, commission, and curate, museum-quality art ‘to disrupt and lift the barriers to those environments’, which she said should be ‘places where people feel valued, involved, and optimistic’.” Pictured with Joe Forster (far left), left to

right, are Katharine Lazenby, Mick McKeown, Sarah Loughran, and Declan McGill.

matrix that has grouped key improvements into four different areas: l Improving the wellbeing and positive attitude of patients.

l Improving healing and recovery rates. l Improving efficiency of care. l Improving staff morale and retention.

Dulux Trade explained: “Users can then follow the detailed application flowchart to ensure they benefit from all that the palettes have to offer. Alongside best practice guidance, the Equality Act-compliant colour palettes provide top tips to further aid the design, from specification to completion.” Product specifications are also included.

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