In keeping with “A Vision for Change” to promote mental health at all levels of society, and for delivering specialist care to everyone who needs it, the HSE appointed the Design Team to develop a Specialist 40 bed Residential Mental Health unit, to be built on the land bank at St Fintan’s Hospital, Portlaoise in order to provide specialist residential accommodation for Psychiatry of Later Life clients, including dementia specific beds. This building will provide purpose built, suitably sized accommodation and will be a replacement unit for some facilities that do not meet current standards in the existing St. Fintan’s Hospital building.
The building has been designed by Wejchert Architects based on the Teaghlach modelof care, which encourages a much more domestic feeling to the units for residents. The building is split into 2no. 15 bed ‘households’, and a more acute 10 bed ‘household’, all with supporting staff and services areas. The 15 bed units wrap around a central and fully accessible courtyard for the residents use. There are continuous circulation routes included in these units to allow for wandering routes for residents. The households include features such as a kitchenette, dining area, sitting rooms and a secure external garden area.
A large emphasis was placed on independent living for each resident, where suitable, and with this strategy in mind, each resident has their own single bedroom, with ensuite, and access to the external areas directly from their bedroom. There are a large number of facilities both internal and external which encourage the residents to engage with the building. This include an occupational therapy suite, contemplation space, gardening areas (both covered and uncovered), a chicken hutch and run, a putting green and decommissioned motor cars, among other features. The building has been designed to a high standard in terms of low energy use and sustainability.