Secure and sustainable at Cheshire’s new CAMHS unit

Work underway on Ancora House

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) is developing a new £14m Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) inpatient unit within the grounds of the Countess of Chester Health Park.

As part of a project being delivered by Villicare, a joint venture between CWP and healthcare estates specialist, Ryhurst, Ancora House will be a Tier 4 facility, providing 30 beds split into two wards of 12 and 14 beds, with four additional bedrooms to be used as a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

The building services for the new unit have been designed by consultants, Steven Hunt & Associates. Its managing director, Steve Hunt, said: “Our remit was to design a services installation that will maintain the highest levels of safety and security for patients, staff and visitors while delivering a low-energy, efficient building.”

Safety conscious

Central to safety and security is the need to ensure there will be no exposed services infrastructure in any of the patient areas and that anti-ligature fittings are specified.

To overcome the ligature risk of conventional radiators, Steven Hunt & Associates has specified underfloor heating, with the required pipework embedded in the screed and heating controlled centrally by a Building Management System (BMS).

Individual controls for each room will be located in a service cupboard accessible only by staff, and an emergency isolation function is also located here to enable instant power switch off in the event of an emergency. Other safety features designed into patient rooms include sensors to detect any additional pressure exerted on the doors to each patient room, which will activate an alarm if a level of pressure that could indicate self-harm is detected.

The building will feature a full CCTV system, along with a nurse call solution incorporating staff attack/panic alarms. In some areas an air locking system has also been incorporated into the specification to ensure that patients cannot access staff-only areas or leave the premises without authorisation.

Maximum efficiency

The underfloor heating has been designed to maximise energy efficiency, using an air source heat pump as the main energy source for both heating and cooling in an N+1 configuration, with a duty air source heat pump plus a standby as a back-up. Further energy will be provided by a 10.1kW solar PV installation, which will also provide the trust with a higher Feed-in Tariff (FIT) return.

In addition, Steven Hunt & Associates has specified a small CHP unit providing 20kW of thermal load for the scheme. This was sized using computer modelling to accurately predict domestic hot water (DHW) demand. The CHP will also provide 5kW of electrical load.

There will be no window opening for ventilation in the patient areas, so Steven Hunt & Associates has designed an energy-efficient ventilation system that will maintain the facility at constant pressure with extract systems set to a constant trickle rate 365 days/year. PIR sensors will sense occupancy and these will be linked to dampers that will open automatically via the BMS to activate mechanical fans.

The lighting installation has been designed to use as little energy as possible, with LED lighting throughout the building and a combination of presence and absence detectors and daylight sensor controls. The lighting has been designed with safety in mind, too, with no light switches in the patient bedrooms and a combination of surface-mounted anti-ligature, recessed and anti-ligature strip lights fittings.

Energy savings

The building services design for the new CAMHS unit combines energy efficiency with safety.

Hunt said: “While current building regulations expect an average of 33.2kg of CO2 per m2 per annum for hospital environments, calculations for the new facility indicate 24.5kg of CO2 per M2 per annum; a carbon saving of 27.5%.”

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