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Work – 05 Jul, 2024

Work commences on psychiatric intensive care unit for children

Construction has commenced on our 8-bed Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for Dorset HealthCare at their Alumhurst Road site in Bournemouth.

Work commences on psychiatric intensive care unit for children

Being built by Kier Construction, the new building will take advantage of its elevated woodland site to create a safe and therapeutic space for the recovery of a vulnerable patient group.

The facility will enable staff to effectively treat patients who display highly complex and challenging behaviours, in a secure and dignified setting. Suitable for patients between 12 and 18 years old, the building includes 8 inpatient beds, day spaces, a two-classroom school facility, treatment spaces, tribunal room, seclusion room, de-escalation room and an extra-care suite.

We are very pleased with the design of the facility, developed with Medical Architecture in conjunction with our construction partner Kier, alongside patients, staff and peer specialists. It has taken into account the constraints and sensitivities of the site, and we are confident it will provide a first-class environment which meets both the clinical and educational needs of our patients.

Matthew Bryant Chief Executive Dorset HealthCare

Utilising a site of natural quality

The building design has been influenced by the challenges and opportunities presented by the site’s constraints, as well as the very specific requirements of the patient group. This includes an existing Grade II* Listed hospital building and attractive grounds that provide a secluded and therapeutic setting. Taking advantage of the steeply sloping site and woodland setting, the new building is located on an existing plateau, elevating the patient accommodation so there is a direct connection to the surrounding tree canopies.

The ensuite bedrooms form an important safe sanctuary for the young patients and have been designed to provide a comfortable and private space with good daylight. A large secure window, combined with the stepped nature of the landscape, provides a sense of being nestled among the treetops. A generous window seat provides a personal space that encourages calm contemplation.

This facility will represent a major step forward for children’s mental health services in Dorset.

Matthew Bryant

Chief Executive - Dorset HealthCare

Work commences on psychiatric intensive care unit for children

Within patient bedrooms, the bed and wardrobe have been designed as bespoke built-in joinery, subtly integrating the requirements for safety and robustness, whilst providing a display for personal items to create a familiar environment.

Specialist facilities for a vulnerable patient group

Considering the complex needs of the patient group, the building has been designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients and staff. Clear zoning of accommodation enables patients to co-exist in harmony with opportunities for separation to de-escalate tension.

A large central courtyard acts as a focal point to the patient accommodation, providing a secure and accessible outdoor area for activity. Day spaces, including a television room, games room, and lounge, are arranged around the courtyard offering a choice of engaging views to the surrounding woodland.

Work commences on psychiatric intensive care unit for children

Through a choreographed approach to placemaking, strategically located rooflights highlight a series of special spaces within the building, including a snug seating area within the central corridor.

Delivering quality and value on a sensitive site

The new building is to be positioned at the rear of the existing hospital site at a lower elevation to the main access route and listed building. As a result, the roof forms a prominent visual feature which is key to the sensitive response to the building’s context. The design proposes a high-quality standing seam zinc roof finish and a buff brick base which complement the heritage buildings on the site, creating a simple and elegant form.

One of the early cohort of the New Hospital Programme, the scheme has helped to define future New Hospital Programme projects in terms of forward-thinking buildability and room standardisation. Early work to rationalise the required volume of accommodation will deliver a quality environment against challenging budgetary constraints.

The unit’s distinctive requirements, coupled with the complex topography of the site, presented challenges that we successfully navigated through close collaboration with the client, the design team, and the contractor. Set against a stunning backdrop, the unit will enhance the provision of care, and provide a therapeutic environment for a vulnerable patient group.

Yvonne Ophaus Associate Medical Architecture