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Environ-Mental. Can psychiatric patients be consulted and effectively involved in a process that results in change to the design of healthcare environments and as a direct consequence affect their well-being?

Bev Lamey , Carol Bristow

Background: Loony Bins and madhouses; does the environment contribute to the wellbeing of mental health patients (clients)? Have the large Victorian asylums, where patients were hidden from public view, disappeared? Evidence suggests otherwise. People struggling with the distress and disruptive consequences of mental illness, are still kept in oppressive, unsympathetic environments.

Aims:
- Establish methodologies of design consultation with reference to moods, emotions and wellbeing.
- Enhance wellbeing within care facilities through effective design solutions.

The Project: At the Lonsdale Unit, Ridgelea Hospital, Lancaster, a “client group” meets regularly to discuss their environment. Co-ordinated by care-staff and supported by design academics, it is unprecedented within mental-health services. The SEED project (Supportive Environment Encouraging Development) reflects the interdependence of emotions, wellbeing, and design in the care environment. A new self-confidence has been established through deployment of design processes and design thinking.

Conclusion: The primary result will be a new or refurbished building for the clients of the Lonsdale Unit driven by the therapeutic, consultative processes established by SEED. The main findings are the definition of a methodology, which combines care and design that engages individuals and reflects emotions; a model to facilitate design consultation for similar projects; collaborative research and the wide dissemination of outcomes. The “Environ-mental” project and SEED is about design for wellbeing in addition to design for physical need and practical function.