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Innovation in Out of Hospital and Long-Term Dementia Care The Heathlands Integrated Health and Care Home

The Heathlands Integrated Health and Care Home is the result of a five-year £9.2m joint commissioning strategy between Bracknell Forest Council, NHS Frimley, and Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust. The home offers both long-term dementia care and an intermediate care unit designed to help reduce prolonged hospital stays.

The building facilitates care to patients who are medically stable but are not managing at home and may be approaching a time of crisis. They do not need to go to A&E and go through the process of being admitted to hospital, as they can be cared for in Heathlands instead. This makes a huge difference to the Trust in terms of patient flow and the patient experience and will hopefully take some of the burden off our acute hospitals.

The home was designed by Arcadis IBI Group, who provided architecture, landscape, and interior design services for the 66-bed facility. We placed sustainability at the heart of the design process, with the building achieving a BREEAM rating of Very Good. The build features energy-efficient lighting, solar power generation, and air source heat pump technology.

The building provides intermediate care services, operated by Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust on the top floor, with the lower two floors used as a specialist dementia care facility operated by Windsar Care.

The intermediate care unit focuses on rehabilitation and supports patients discharged from local hospitals including Frimley Park, Wexham Park and, occasionally, the Royal Berkshire. There are 26 multi-skilled staff based at this part of the facility, including rehab nurses, therapy technicians, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists.

Heathlands first opened its doors to patients at the end of March 2022 and the unit has since cared for 65 patients with an average length of stay of 8.5 days. 70 per cent of those patients have been discharged to their usual place of residence or new care home.

The lower two floors are operated as a specialist dementia facility and are designed around the core needs of its’ residents. The vision for the interior design at Heathlands was to create an environment that helps people with dementia feel calm and at home. The interior design is based upon the idea of a sensory journey, with a variety of colours and textures accenting fittings and finishes. A salutogenic approach to design, adopted by Arcadis IBI Group, aims to provide an environment that supports a person’s independence by providing sensory information, not just for the eye but for touch, hearing, smell, and taste.

Arcadis IBI Group designed-in sensory consoles with end-of-corridor seating areas for respite, and which incorporated items that can be used for stimulating a particular sense such as sight, touch, smell or hearing. These additions are simple and can be used for play; they include pinecones or wooden objects, woolen balls and blankets or dried flowers, fruit, bells and music boxes. Staff members can change these objects around and use themes, such as leaves in autumn to evoke different memories and conversations – an important component to feeling connected and sharing experiences.

Crucially, it is important not to overlook the needs of care staff and visitors. Family members need to feel welcome and ideally have places outside of a person’s bedroom where they can meet relatives and converse. Staff areas were designed with fresh air and natural light to help with energy levels. Typically, staff quarters are set deep into the building plan, with views and sunlight prioritised to residents, however the design ensured staff areas enjoyed the views as well.

Collaboration at the forefront

Heathlands’ design process has involved a high amount of end user engagement, which has resulted in a building the end users feel proud of and have ownership over. Arcadis IBI Group’s design team also advised the end users about best-practice for dementia design and any statutory requirements regarding Building Regulations, Planning Laws and Health Technical Memoranda.

Feedback from the staff, residents, patients, their relatives and carers has been very positive: There has been high praise for the ‘excellent staff’, the ‘lovely environment’, and the ‘amazing home-cooked food.’

Maarit Heinonen-Smith, Senior Living & Care Lead at Arcadis IBI Group

“The Heathlands’ design process involved a high amount of end user and client engagement, which created a design that supports the health and wellbeing of the residents. Independence plays a large role in the success of a project like this, which is why we designed spaces to minimise staff intervention – essential for resident confidence and autonomy.”

Maarit Heinonen-Smith, Senior Living & Care Lead at Arcadis IBI Group

“The Council, in collaboration with its health partners, wanted to construct a shared facility which integrated distinct clinical and residential areas. The split site levels and planning byelaws created constraints. However, IBI Group successfully delivered a balance between the spatial requirements of the operators, as well as resident and patient comfort.”

Rajesh Sinha, Programme Manager, Bracknell Forest Council

Delivered by construction partner Stepnell, Heathlands was officially opened to residents in May 2022 by HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

In summary

  • Arcadis IBI Group completed the Heathlands Integrated Health and Care Home in Berkshire in spring 2022
  • The facility comprises 66 beds for people with dementia, as well as an intermediate care unit
  • Achieved BREEAM Very Good rating
  • The building helps prevent prolonged stays in hospital and is centered around design that supports the health and wellbeing of the residents. The design process was driven by extensive end user engagement and in close collaboration with Bracknell Forest Council

And finally...

Arcadis IBI Group is proud to sponsor Housing LIN. Visit the Arcadis IBI Group sponsored ‘Health Intel’ on health and housing at: www.housinglin.org.uk/Topics/browse/HealthandHousing/

For more Arcadis IBI Group resources on the Housing LIN website check out Maarit Heinonen-Smith’s blog Vertical retirement villages: On the up!

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