One solution to this problem could be to locate psychiatric administration units on the general hospital site but in a separate structure to the main building. One description of the ideal observes that:
The unit should be low-built, with no more than two floors, in order to reduce the danger to suicidal patients of jumping from a height. Ideally, there should be individual bedrooms in order to provide privacy and a place of refuge when the ward environment is very disturbed. Flexible spaces are reduced for a variety of activities and sufficient interview rooms are required for seeing patients and their relatives. There needs to be access to a secure garden that is screened from public gaze and provides sufficient space for assessed patients to walk about.44
44 Leff, J., & Warner, R., (2006). Social inclusion of people with mental illness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.68.
45 Heyden, T., (2014). How patients might design a psychiatric hospital. BBC News. Retrieved 29 Nov 2016 from:
However, very few acute psychiatric assessment units in the UK
possess such features. Despite this, such features represent the
ideal psychiatric treatment environment for mental health patients according to recent studies on the subject. For example, James
46 Wood, V.J., Curtis, S.,
Leadbitter’s Madlove project to design a mental health ward found
Gesler, W., Spencer, I.H.,
that users and designers of psychiatric wards wanted these areas to
Close, H.J., Mason, J, & Reilly,
be not so clinical, to have specially-designed therapy rooms such
G., (2015). The impact of the
as a washable paint room, greenery and open spaces, areas where
design of the psychiatric in-
patients can act out safely, spaces for tranquil activities, and more
patient facility on perceptions
fluid boundaries between the hospital and the outside world.
of carer wellbeing. Designing
Similarly, when designing a new mental health unit in the north of
Buildings Wiki. Retrieved 29
England, it was found that users wanted greater accessibility to the
Nov 2016 from: https://www.
site for visitors, especially carers, ease of movement beyond hospi-
tal grounds, a domestic setting for the hospital, with emphasis on
private space for patients, and spaces within the domestic design to
facilitate social interactions between patients. This evidence indi-
cates that the majority of psychiatric ward design in the UK fails to
meet the expectations of service users.