brightened up ourselves, and also use for monthly coffee afternoons for relatives and carers, who can often offer each other mutual support. We will shortly be taking on an associate practitioner occupational therapist, who will look to engage patients in activity.”

I asked Jo Inglis what – from her standpoint – had been the main benefits of the refurbishment scheme, “For me,” she said, “the most noticeable improvement has been the much enhanced light and the brighter colours. The environment feels so much warmer and therapeutic for patients, while staff now really enjoy working here.

Design and stakeholder meetings “At every stage of the design there was stakeholder engagement, which enabled us to collate and act upon, for example, suggestions from staff on how we could best improve the environment. We were able to hold most of the design and stakeholder meetings on site, which was helpful.” Jo Inglis added: “All the patients moved with the staff to Dove House on 7 November 2017, and we all moved back in on 24 July last year. The longest I have nursed a patient here in what is primarily an assessment and treatment unit is 18 months, so the quality of the environment is absolutely key; wherever possible the aim is get patients back home or into the community. While it can be emotionally difficult caring for people with severe dementia, it can also be extremely rewarding, even when dealing with somebody at the end of their life, which in many ways puts the carer in a privileged position. With the new facilities we can now move such patients into an ‘extra care’ room, and with their walk-in shower, family members can be accommodated too if we put in a temporary bed, in an environment that maintains privacy and dignity. I think the extra care facilities are one of biggest improvements brought about by the ‘refurb’ project.”

Keeping a tight rein on costs With a tight overall budget, avoiding ‘cost creep’ during the construction project has been a priority. Faithful+Gould managed the project through an OJEU-compliant framework. Alex Caruso said: “Although tight budget constraints necessitated us value engineering out a number of desirable features, we feel the refurbishment has had the positive impact for both patients and staff that we set out to achieve. Staff feedback, and indeed the comments we have had from patients’ relatives, have been extremely favourable, and we are delighted that we have managed to create a far brighter, lighter, and more therapeutic feel in place of the former rather drab and institutional patient facilities.” Jo Inglis said: “From a staff standpoint, we have always striven to provide first-class care, but the interior pre-refurbishment was a little depressing, and it was bit disheartening to get a CQC report which praised the level of



At every stage of the design there was stakeholder engagement, which enabled us to collate and act upon, for example, suggestions from staff on how we could best improve the environment

care we provide, yet dubbed the spaces – which we as staff could do little about – as ‘poor’. In fact, we owe a debt to Tracey Warrington, the charge nurse before me, and her colleague, the Modern Matron, Anne Munroe, for pressing for improvements which I would argue were essential to enable us to continue to offer truly fit-for-purpose 21st-century care.”


The new kitchen has a light, bright, and uplifting deign, and, alongside its primary function, is a popular meeting place for staff, visitors, and service-users.

ACA’s Alex Caruso, the lead architect on the project, has extensive design expertise in mental healthcare.

Wayfinding and artwork Alex Caruso added: “In addition to the various other improvements, we put together an integrated artwork and wayfinding scheme, which we saw as key for a dementia assessment and treatment facility. All the artwork is associated with the local area.” A good example I saw on quick tour – harnessing the principle that travel-related images are a strong memory stimulant for those living with dementia – was a striking mural on one wall of the main lounge, a pixelated painting of Hull’s Paragon Street Bus station. Alex Caruso said: “The scene is indistinct – to discourage residents from trying to interact with the mural as they approach it. From a distance you can see the buses depicted, but close up the image is blurry. All the new artwork used – much of it selected in conjunction with staff – is designed both to brighten up the interior, and, in some cases, to provide visual cues; for instance the door of the ADL kitchen features a pictogram of a steaming pan, while all the toilet doors are yellow. I’m in fact a strong believer that orientation shouldn’t just be about signs. “All the key signage thus incorporates an activity-associated pictogram, and the room’s name in both conventional text and Braille.” Talking of sensory aspects, the architect added: “The new spaces are fitted with noise-suppressing ceiling panels (from Ecophon), since it is well-established that excessive noise can distress patients with dementia. The vinyl flooring (from Altro) in many areas was also chosen for its noise-absorbing abilities. Looking at the project holistically, we feel that the refurbishment has banished the rather dated institutional feel that characterised the bedrooms and other main patient spaces before. Imaginative use of vibrant colours and contrast, more light, better ventilation, and a more spacious, open feel, have transformed the interior and, we feel, made Maister Lodge a much nicer place to be for patients, staff, and visitors alike.” n


ACA/Nazia Hussain

ACA/Nazia Hussain

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