had to be restrained to stop people either falling out or escaping. Windows were restrained to only allow a 100 mm gap. This obviously restricted the ventilation drastically.” Various options currently exist on the market that have been designed to satisfy these various requirements.

Specifiers should consider an external sliding window system. With regard to maintenance, sliding windows can be cleaned from the inside and outside allowing maintenance to be carried out with more ease than some other models and without disrupting patients. It is also paramount that the window offers no points at which a ligature – a cord, wire or belt – could be attached by a patient contemplating suicide. The flush frame should offer no such points and the window should be openable for ventilation by means of a slipper clutch – a dial-shaped operating mechanism that similarly provides no protrusions for attaching a ligature. The fixture is so-called because it is engineered to ‘slip’ repeatedly no matter how often it is turned and therefore


cannot be forced to open the window wider than intended.

At a time when budgets are tight, facilities managers responsible for mental health institutions are nevertheless keen to see to what extent their buildings can be future-proofed to meet ongoing requirements for patient care. “If future proofing is considered then future risks and forward costs can be reduced,” argues Davidson. “Manual and electric blinds are being used more and more. This is because they are now safe if used within the double glazed units of a window, there is very little maintenance needed and it gives both patients and staff a lot more control over their environment.” Most important is for building managers to discuss fully with window manufacturers all their requirements at an early stage. “There are advancements being made all of the time which give clients more options,” says Davidson. “Getting a full size window demonstration is also very important. Seeing a workable sample of a window type allows for an examination into each benefit and risk a window holds.”


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