Aesthetics vs. ligature resistance With differing requirements in levels of security, coupled with the need for parts to look more ‘domestic’, it is difficult as a company to produce products which look good, but that are also fit for purpose. Our main consideration, of course, is to ensure that products are fit for purpose. We have to produce a product which

A V2 High Security WC Pan – Disabled.

will suit all markets – from the lowest to the highest levels of security. Ligature resistance is something which we strive greatly to design into our products without it impacting on the functionality and overall aesthetic. However this can only go so far, and compromises have to be made. In fact, designing ligature resistance into a product can be achieved quite easily. The question, however, is how far you can go before the product loses its identity, and this is one of the clear challenges we face when bringing new products into this market. By making reference to the relevant guidance documents and testing procedures we can design the product to meet the criteria within them, and then start to look at the aesthetics thereafter.

Smooth curves, flowing surfaces Smooth curves and flowing surfaces are areas we look to work on mostly, firstly so that there are no sharp corners, but also to make the products look less ‘harsh’ when installed. Our integrated basin (VR01-030) is complex, yet gentle curves make it easier on the eye. Couple that with its added ligature-resistant features, and you have a favourable recipe for success. Finally, versatility is something that we design into our products to make them more adaptable to the market. By reacting to what the customer deems ‘aesthetically pleasing’, we can produce variations of the same product to meet their needs. Taking the integrated basin as an example again, this can be produced with single or double spout, with single or two sensors. With such flexibility, and our UK manufacturing base, we can be very reactive to market requirements and aesthetic preferences.

Robustness in mind Placing products into applications where there is a high likelihood of them getting damaged is a key part of our thought process when designing any new item. Many current sanitaryware products are made from vitreous china and solid surface materials, and this is where Dart Valley Systems differentiates itself. By utilising glass-reinforced polyester technology we


can produce products which are stronger and lighter, but still retain the look of a ‘domestic’ glazed vitreous china surface. This technology has been utilised in ballistic armour and other marine- based products for many years, and has proven strength and versatility. This historical success is why Dart Valley Systems took the

decision to utilise it. Being able to offer a product which is virtually indestructible is a great way to start a conversation about a high security solution. Being able to produce products that will not break or burn, or, if they do get broken – say by a distressed service- user – that cannot be used as a weapon, was a

A Safe Ensuite in Wall basin.

significant challenge, but one that we overcame with a good choice of material and method of production.

Compliance with guidance In order for us to be successful in the markets we serve, our products must meet relevant guidelines and pass certain tests. This is another great challenge, the meeting of which encompasses both material selection and good product design. The Health Technical Memoranda (HTMs) are a good starting point, since they stipulate the tolerances required for certain products – anything from the height of spouts from the rim of a basin to a WC pan not having a rim. Such considerations need to be built into the products due to the fact that they are to be installed in a mental health or other healthcare environment.

Dart Valley Systems has

A High Security mirror with moulded frame and shelf.

worked extensively with the Bathroom Manufacturers Association and the Ministry of Justice to develop a testing for robustness programme for products intended for use in high security facilities. This standard was developed using test procedures from existing BS and BS EN standards, and plays a major part in our design process – in that we design shapes and features which can absorb impact and are easy to repair if they do get damaged. Coupling this process with ligature resistance and aesthetics is no small challenge, but is something we pride ourselves in achieving.

The programmable washroom Dart Valley Systems is well known as a leader in electronically controlled washroom equipment, and this is certainly the case within the mental health sector. We provide standard en suite packages for the high security products, but in some cases customers may want something a little different. Due to the versatility and malleability of our software, we can customise our controls to suit special scenarios within a mental health facility. This is even easier now that we can offer programmable sensors and controls which include purging and lock-out functionality. All parameters can be changed and customised via the DVS Handheld programmer, which means that changes can be made quickly on site without any manufacturer intervention. With this in mind, we pride ourselves on being able to provide a solution to a customer

needs, efficiently and effectively, by having full control over every water outlet – via programming of each sensor individually to ensure that areas are tailored to the user’s needs.

A High Security Wall Hung WC Pan with Blue Top.

Keeping our customers happy is, of course, the key to repeat business, and one good example is Simon Orridge, Capital Projects manager at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, who explains: “In August 2008 I joined Derbyshire Mental Health NHS Trust, which was later renamed Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, as part of the Capital Projects Team. The Trust operates a number of mental healthcare facilities and services – from outpatient services to inpatient secure facilities. “I very quickly became aware of Dart Valley Systems, and this was the start of a working relationship between the company and the Trust

which would flourish in the years to follow. “The three key criteria for any

sanitaryware installed in the Trust’s mental healthcare units were advanced infection control, reduced ligature risk, and security. Dart Valley Systems excels in these areas. Its investment in R&D enables it to manufacture products which are both fit for purpose and compliant. Dart Valley Systems also provides competitive packages and a superior after-sales service,

Placing products into applications where there is a high likelihood of them getting damaged is a key part of our thought process when designing any new product


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