Overill Associates

Design and administration 

Case study

Client – Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

This case study is based on our experience working for the Sussex Partnership Trust at Woodlands Hospital, The Ridge, Hastings. This hospital is an acute, all age mental health hospital that was purpose built at the start of the millennium.

Contract value – £230,000

Lead Surveyor – Mike Tanner

Project description

The aim of the project was to address serious safety and operational issues relating to the 33 en-suite shower rooms within the hospital. The main issues included the following:

  1. Hazards relating to patient safety, and in particular, ligature issues with the showers, toilets, basins, doors, vents and light fittings.
  2. Patients being able to mis-use the showers, basins and toilets by flooding the rooms.
  3. Patients being able to break the fixed components.
  4. Long term problems with leaking plumbing and blocked drainage.
  5. Water escaping from the showers via the walls and floors due to inappropriate materials, sealants and lack of falls to the gullies.
  6. The inability to access the plumbing and electronic controls.
  7. The poor siting of equipment which resulted in two Estate’s Staff having to be in attendance to service each bathroom, with one person being in the room and the other person being in the corridor.

The aim of the project was to address the above issues to ensure the Woodlands environment was safe for patient and staff use and was sufficiently robust and reliable to ensure that the Trust could maintain a service. The main aims can be summarised as follows:-

  1. Improving patient safety by designing out ligature hazards within the en-suite shower rooms.
  2. Improving operational reliability by choosing and selecting components and services that were appropriate for the specialist nature of the hospital.
  3. Providing robustness in the design of the en-suite shower rooms by using appropriate materials and components.
  4. Improving the serviceability of the en-suite shower rooms by re-siting the services valves and solenoids to enable a single member of the Estates Team to service each en-suite from the safety of the hospital corridor. The work also included re-programming the controllers so that the showers, basins and toilets could be locked out after repeated pressing of the buttons. This greatly reduced the incidence of flooding.

To carry out the works in a timely and cost effective way by limiting the downtime of each room whilst balancing the requirements of the Trust and the overall cost of the works.

Overill Associates Limited services:

Overill Associates Limited (OAL) carried out a detailed survey of each en-suite shower room to establish the precise condition of each room. This enabled a detailed picture to be established of the specifics and generality of the defects and issues. This information drove how the corrective works would be carried out. It quickly became apparent that it would be highly beneficial to the Trust to trial the works on a single en-suite room. This would enable the new materials and components and the overall redesign of each room to be carefully controlled and assessed both during the construction phase and then once handed back to the Trust for use by a patient. The exercise enabled OAL to assess and control the cost of the trial room and the length of time needed to complete the works. This information would be critical in the cost and time planning for the scheme once the proposals had been rolled out to cover the remaining 32no. en-suite rooms.

OAL designed and specified the proposals for the trial en-suite room. As part of this process, an innovative design for the access hatches to the services was prepared and made by a contractor. The design addressed serious ligature issues with the previous hatches in the hospital together with improving on the security of the hatches. An access hatch was made and then trialled in situ by the Trust before being incorporated within the trial room.

OAL were able to review the trial room with the Trust once it had been used by the patient for over a month. This review incorporated the comments of experts in their field from throughout the Trust. The review resulted in some minor changes to the design in terms of the location of the access hatches and other finishes.

Detailed Planning

The intention of the Trust was to refurbish each of the 33no. en-suite shower rooms but the challenge was how to do this within a live environment. The Trust were unable to close the hospital to enable a contractor to complete the works in a single programme. OAL, therefore, looked at the options for how the works could be tackled in a series of small concurrent phases, ranging from one room at a time or multiple rooms, including possibly closing half of the hospital at a time.

Using the information gained from the trial scheme, it was possible to predict accurately the time required for these options and also the anticipated cost of each option. OAL presented this information to the Trust and this enabled a decision to be made that balanced costs with time and disruption to the hospital. The Trust chose to proceed with works based on a contractor completing 3no. en-suite shower rooms at a time. Each three-room phase would take three weeks to complete.

Each separate phase would commence on a Monday and would be handed back to the Trust after 3 weeks on the following Friday. The rooms would then be re-occupied by patients before the contractor commenced the next phase on the Monday. The contractor was able to adhere to this strict programme throughout the whole of the contract.