Enhancing the healing environment in Franklyn Hospital, Exeter

ContactCarrie Clarke, Occupational Therapist, Devon Partnership NHS Trust
AddressWonford House Hospital, Dryden Road, Exeter, EX2 5AF

What is being done?

The Enhancing the Healing Environment (EHE) project, funded by the Department of Health through the King’s Fund, has taken place alongside a £2.5m investment by Devon Partnership NHS Trust to refurbish and extend Franklyn Hospital in Exeter, which offers specialist in-patient mental health services to mostly older people.

Belvedere is a 16-bedded assessment and treatment unit for people with moderate to severe dementia. The new environment is designed to engage people through all the senses, with sensory trails linking the inside and outside. Colour, lighting, artwork and planting have been designed to both stimulate and calm, encouraging personal and social interaction and enabling people who use the service to explore ways of supporting their own wellbeing. An essential aspect of the project vision is to create a sense of connection to place, self and others.

What is new and different?

Belvedere now offers an innovative environment based on the latest research-based evidence in which quality care is being delivered to provide a service ‘good enough for my family’. The service offers assessment and treatment to people living with moderate to severe dementia who require specialist care.

What difference this seems to be making

By including a variety of different spaces, such as the sociable main lounge, the more intimate three themed sensory areas, the peace and familiar domesticity of ‘The Snug’ and easy access to the courtyard garden, the newly designed environment now offers people using our service more choice and control over where they spend their time. This has had a significant impact on reducing levels of distressed behaviour.

A dynamic lighting system, which mimics the varying light levels of natural daylight, has been installed in the main lounge. Early indications are that this has had a positive impact on sleep disturbance, particularly day/night reversal; the Trust’s Research team is currently evaluating its impact.

New toilet signage has been designed to enable easier recognition of where toilet facilities are located; an important and often overlooked area in terms of preserving independence and dignity.

Plans for taking the project forward

It is hoped that the project will act as an exemplar, demonstrating how a sensitively and appropriately designed environment, based on the latest research-based evidence, can contribute to the well-being of people with dementia. We hope this will go some way towards reducing the distress, fear and confusion which may be experienced on admission to a strange environment.