Altro wall cladding used in ground-breaking clinical design

Easy-clean wall cladding installed at Mount Vernon Hospital

Altro Whiterock Chameleon has been used, along with Altro Unity 25 safety flooring, to create a ground-breaking solution within the new endoscopy unit at Mount Vernon Hospital in Middlesex.

The new £800,000 unit has been created to offer the very latest technology within an attractive, relaxing environment. Importantly, the four-bedded ward has been designed to ensure a streamlined journey for patients from admission onto the unit, through to the procedure itself and discharge home. In the existing facility, patients were required to retire to a separate sitting room before being discharged.

Bernard Stilwell Architects designed and managed the project. Bernard Stilwell said: “Our brief was to design a self-contained endoscopy unit where patients could relax, receive treatment and recover in a well-structured journey, all within one ward.

“In a clinical environment the first thought when choosing surface finishes is infection control, yet aesthetics and the patient experience are, for us, equally important. Ultimately, the wellbeing of patients and staff depends on both a hygienic, easy to clean environment and a visually pleasing design.

“We have specified Altro safety flooring several times before. Altro Whiterock was a first for us and an excellent choice: a good range of colours and the potential for a seamless appearance across a variety of surfaces. It helped us unify the appearance of the interiors, to produce a calm, harmonious, well ordered end result.

In a clinical environment the first thought when choosing surface finishes is infection control, yet aesthetics and the patient experience are, for us, equally important

“We carried out detailed feasibility studies at the site, consulted with a range of clinicians and on the basis of this we created the design. Typically, clinical equipment and fittings are strong primary colours, often blues and whites, so we selected Altro products to complement this.”

Design challenges included the electric sliding doors to the endoscopy recovery bay. These are glazed with the mechanism built into a steel structure in the walls. The doorset also contains a fire shutter, which will drop down in an emergency to protect the unit.

“Keeping infection out of the recovery bay was obviously a key consideration, so the doors had to be easy to clean, with as few joints as possible to reduce bacterial invasion, as well as being tough and impact resistant,” said Stilwell.

“We wanted to ensure that it complemented the rest of the design and colour scheme of the unit to create an overall cohesive feel. With all these considerations in mind, we decided to completely clad the structure in Altro Whiterock Chameleon.”

Wallclad Floors and Doors was commissioned to fabricate and clad the door assembly.

Altro Whiterock Chameleon in ‘Slipstream’ and ‘Pure Innocence’ were specified for decorative surface treatment of the door surrounds and adjacent walls in the entrance and patient waiting and recovery areas. Altro Whiterock White was used in the cleaning rooms, lobbies and corridors. Using the two products together gave flexibility in design and added another dimension to the overall finish.

Altro Whiterock is a cost-effective sheet extruded from a high-quality PVCu polymer. It is easy to clean, impact resistant and grout-free and meets all current EU directives on health and hygiene.

Altro Whiterock Chameleon offers vibrant solid colours, or more natural tones, in a high gloss finish, allowing for bold designs or more-muted interiors in a variety of customer-facing environments.

Ultimately, the wellbeing of patients and staff depends on both a hygienic, easy to clean environment and a visually pleasing design

Altro Unity 25 safety flooring was also used in the new ward. It offers sustained slip resistance for the lifetime of the product, keeping the risk of a slip to just one in a million. Available in 18 plain and chipped modern colours, this heavy-duty safety flooring is ideal for locations that need to look good and work hard.

At 2.5mm thick, it is more resilient to torque, which passes through the wheels and is partially absorbed by, and dissipated through, the flooring. Thicker flooring dissipates the energy more effectively, making the flooring less likely to debond and providing a smoother journey for patients on trolleys and the staff pushing them.

Altro Unity 25 combines this durability with enhanced aesthetics and unrivalled PUR technology that can reduce cleaning and maintenance costs throughout the product’s life by up to 60%. It also offers enhanced chemical resistance and copes well with moisture and temperature extremes, making it perfect for public walkways that need to work hard under a variety of conditions.

Danny Robinson, director of Wallclad Floors and Doors, said: “We are known for our specialist joinery, but this project was something we had never done before, so it was a very exciting prospect.

“Our initial task, once we had seen the architectural designs, was to create it through 3D modelling, which took two weeks. This enabled us to see very clearly the practical challenges we faced in fabricating and installing it, and as a result we made a few adjustments to the design to make it feasible.

“We were able to thermoform the material in our workshop offsite. This process heats the Altro Whiterock to a specific temperature, whereby components can then be moulded into the desired shape. So the entire over-cladding for columns, surrounds, lintel, and the working mechanism for the doors and fire shutter was prepared offsite ready for installation. It was essential to keep joins to a minimum to reduce infection on the ward, so we created a sealed finish wherever possible.

The overall effect is one of a practical, yet visually-appealing clinical environment, where patients can feel comfortable, safe and relaxed

“Fabrication in our workshops took two weeks, and then the installation was another week. This was a very complex process, made possible by our 3D modelling system. It is the most difficult job we have ever done, but shows how incredibly versatile Altro Whiterock can be in creating visually stunning designs in healthcare environments where patient safety and hygiene are top priorities.”

Andrew Clark, deputy estates director at Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation, which runs the hospital, added: “The project went very well from start to finish and the Altro floors and walls look great. It was vital for us that patients coming to the new unit would have a positive experience, and that psychologically the environment would reassure them of a positive outcome to their visit.

“In a recent national hospital survey, participants cited ‘light’, ‘air’, ‘space’ and ‘cleanliness’ as the assurances they needed to feel confident in their clinical surroundings. The finish of the Altro floors and walls meets all these criteria because they help to create a light, uncluttered atmosphere and a feeling of space. The overall effect is one of a practical, yet visually-appealing clinical environment, where patients can feel comfortable, safe and relaxed.

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