New standards will support mental health product manufacturers

Published: 21-May-2018

Design in Mental Health Network and BRE announce plans to launch new testing standards for anti-ligature fixtures and fittings, doors, windows, and furniture

New standards are being drawn up in an effort to support manufacturers of innovative mental health products.

At the 2018 Design in Mental Health Conference; the Design in Mental Health Network (DIMHN) provided an update on its partnership with building science agency, BRE, which aims to produce guidance and nationally-agreed standards that will help to improve product performance, reduce the need for multiple testing, and lead to lower costs for mental health providers.

A network spokesman explained: “In a sector where there have been few formal standards for products to be independently tested and appraised; this workstream aims to create a means of evaluating products so that fair comparisons can be made, validated, and verified.

“The result will be that the effectiveness of products and their suitability for a project can be quickly assessed through desk research, streamlining the product selection process and saving time and money for both the suppliers and end clients.

“We believe this would also permit more time to be spent on designing project and environments for recovery and not just for robustness.”

Speaking at the conference last week; Phil Ross, founder of Safehinge and a member of the network board, added “The current product testing regime is a sluggish one that stifles innovation.

“Our aim is to create an independent and repeatable method to assess the performance of products used in mental health developments.”

Working alongside building standards agency, BRE, the network will be looking at some of the key product areas, what tests are needed, and how this could lead to a possible certification system against which products can be specified in the future.

Speaking outside the conference, Chris Hall, health lead at BRE, said: “At the moment the system is not working.

“Currently there’s no consistent test or approach to assessing products for mental health environments.

“If you have the same organisation carrying out the same tests, with the same number of hits, by the same person, with the same hammer, for example, then it gives more-accurate results so that the NHS can say ‘this is the best product for our requirements’.”

Products that could be tested could include anti-ligature fixtures and fittings, doors, windows, and furniture.

“There are some existing tests, which we could make much more robust, but where there are no current testing methods, we would be looking to create those,” said Hall.

The team is now looking for suppliers to work with them to further develop the new system.

Ross said: “We are looking to establish a partnership with industry and we need people to get in touch and help us.

“Over the next six months we will be looking for input from industry experts so that the standards we create will work for everyone.”

The network spokesman added: “If you work in estates, capital of clinical services at an NHS organisation or for a private provider, we want to know whether you would request DIMHN/BRE tested products and if so, why?

“If you are a manufacturer, would you test your products and what benefits do you see to your organisation with independent and repeatable product testing?”

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