Social Impact: Foss Park

Social Impact Foss Park Cover

Social Impact: Foss Park

This expanded Case Study for the project Foss Park Mental Health Inpatient Facility has been created with the help of specialist consultants Hoare Lea to demonstrate how we evidence Social Impact through the places that we create.

Located in the city of York, Foss Park is a 72 bedroom mental health inpatient facility for adults and older people living in North Yorkshire. As an offering of the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, this facility replaces the Bootham Park Hospital which had served North Yorkshire for over two centuries.

Prior to its closure by the Clinical Commissioning Group, Bootham Park was seen as a historic landmark and therefore the design team engaged in significant community engagement and incorporated the history of the hospital into the new facility.

Foss Park features four mental health wards, two single sex adult wards and two older adult wards (one for people with dementia, and one for people with mental health difficulties such as psychosis, severe depression, or anxiety). The broader facilities located at Foss Park include: multiple therapy spaces; garden areas; a gym; a café; family visiting areas; staff areas; and a Research & Development facility.

Social Impact Foss Park Awards

Social Impact of the Design

Co-production & social impact: Co-production is seen as the ‘gold-standard’ in the design and development of healthcare facilities and actively challenges traditional understandings of who are the ‘experts’ by giving voice to ‘experts by experience’ and recognising that lived experience provides an important and unique insight into humancentric design [1]. In healthcare, these experts by experience include service users, carers, staff, and potentially the public. Given the historical and social meaning of the former facility, Bootham Park Hospital, engagement with the public was key to the approach adopted by the design team to ensure that the new facility maximised its positive social impact beyond that experienced by service users, carers, and staff directly using the facility.

The design team hosted over 60 public consultation events to ensure that the design of the new environment recognised, celebrated, and was in keeping with the historical and social understandings of Bootham Park Hospital. In addition to this significant public consultation, the design team also adopted a participatory design process through more than 55 interactive workshops with service users, carers, and staff to ensure that the environments created captured the needs of those who would occupy the space. The extensive service user and carer co-production involvement demonstrates a commitment to hearing the voices of people experiencing distress and incorporating their needs into the design of the environment.

[1] Baum, F., MacDougall, C., & Smith, D. (2006). Participatory action research. Journal of epidemiology and community health, 60(10), 854.

Social Impact Health Welbeing 2

Health & Wellbeing: Central to the design of Foss Park is the idea that calming environments positively impact the health and wellbeing of the building users. Great thought was given to creating a building that felt comfortable, safe and easy to use. The flow from the public interface to the quiet private patient areas is logical and intuitive. Single sided ward corridors mean that all service users have views onto an open garden space the instant they open their doors. Inside, the communal spaces are fitted with adaptable screens to allow for the spaces to either function as open planned social areas or as intimate spaces for particular activities. The use of extensive glazing provides views to the gardens offering positive wellbeing impacts for service users and staff when inside, whilst also encouraging engagements with nature through prioritising access to the outside in the design [1]. The internal spaces incorporate all of the appropriate mental health inpatient measurements you would expect from such a facility (e.g., anti-ligature, observation) in a way that provides safety whilst also keeping the environment relaxed, spacious, airy, and biophilic. The acoustics of the ward were carefully designed to minimise noise transfer between spaces resulting in the overall sense of quiet, calmness, and tranquillity.

[1] Gillis, K., & Gatersleben, B. (2015). A review of psychological literature on the health and wellbeing benefits of biophilic design. Buildings, 5(3), 948-963.

Social Impact Diversity Equity Inclusion

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: P+HS have provided a facility for adults and older adults who are experiencing significant distress and extreme vulnerability. The design is sensitive to the different needs of the service users through its use of adaptable spaces and the sense of shared social spaces, alongside private personal spaces. In addition, artwork was central to the design and operation of the building and to ensure this was successful an artwork strategy team was established which engaged with service users and local groups. This process ensured that the therapeutic benefits of artwork [1] featured prominently in the environment. Nature and outdoor places were chosen as a central theme by the artwork strategy engagement groups, resulting in the displayed artwork constituting a series of pieces which rotate throughout the year to reflect the seasons. In addition, new artwork is generated through art therapy sessions, a process which has a long history of therapeutic benefits in the UK and was utilised back in the 1900’s at the Netherne Asylum in Surrey. This artwork is displayed alongside that of local community art groups to create a connection to the local community.

[1] Seyi-Gbangbayau, P. (2022). The Therapeutic Benefits of Artistic Painting to Human Health. International Journal of Women in Technical Education and Employment (IJOWITED), 3(1),147-154.

Social Impact Social Cohesion

Social Cohesion: With seamless links between the private bedroom spaces, the communal areas, and the outside garden areas, social cohesion and interaction are central to the design of Foss Park. The welcoming reception and café create a space which is a far cry from a traditional mental health inpatient facility from the moment service users, carers, and staff enter the building. The use of adaptable screens further enhances social cohesion in the environment due to the flexibility it offers depending on the required activities and the ability to have large group interaction, or small and intimate interaction. Combined the design measure offer a mental health inpatient environment which recognises the importance of a socially cohesive and supportive environment, something shown to enhance the experience of service users and staff, resulting in better outcomes in relation to alleviating distress and reducing serious
incidents and restraint measures.

[1] Bennett, A., & Hanna, P. (2021). Exploring the experiences of male forensic inpatients’ relationships with staff within low, medium and high security mental health settings. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 42(10), 929-941.

Broader Social Impact

As a direct replacement to the former Bootham Park Hospital, a historic hospital with significant local meaning, the design of Foss Park combined contemporary design with a sympathy and acknowledgement of the local context and history of Bootham Park Hospital. Such an approach recognised the importance of the local voice through the engagement and co-production activities and resulted in a design which incorporates the feel of sweeping street scenes traditionally found in York, demonstrating the longevity that was important to the community, as well as key design features including gable fronts and brick details.

Social Perceptions of the Project

As the above highlights, P+HS’s work on Foss Park has had a significant social impact when considering it in light of existing theory and research evidence. To support this, what follows offers a selection of direct quotations from individuals using the environment. What is clear as a key positive design feature for a large proportion of service users and staff is the way that the design team have enabled a sense of connection between indoor and outdoor spaces and created a calming and pleasant space. As the following comment:

"I am really impressed by the quality of the spaces created in all aspects of the design. That each ward has so much connection with green space and so much room to live and recover in is to be applauded. The hospital facilities very much promote recovery and are respectful of the dignity of and varied needs of patients - all the more important when individuals come into hospital when going through some very upsetting experiences"

- Service User

"Foss Park has been received enthusiastically with a wide range of clinical staff remarking what an improvement it is over the previous accommodations. The improved and plentiful access to fresh air and garden spaces has made a huge difference to people, most especially in improving the emotional temperature of the wards. I am told by inpatient staff that our service users are very pleased with the design and layouts, and people often cite the biggest issue we have is that no one will want to leave"

- Martin Dale, Strategic Project Manager, Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

"The ward is so much lighter, brighter and calmer for patients. The entrance to the hospital is light, welcoming and modern. Less hot spots or areas where people can become more involved in incidents with others"

- Patricia-Rose Shaw, Lead Occupational Therapist, Mental Health Services for Older People, York and Selby

In addition, others commented on the ways in which the design team embraced the engagement and co-production to produce an environment which responds to the needs of service users and staff. As the following comment:

"Having been involved in patient feedback on the emerging designs for some time, I am particularly grateful for the way that both TEWV and the architects have listened and learnt from the patient experience, including predecessor units. They have not just improved upon these but far surpassed any facilities we have ever had locally, setting the standard for patient facilities elsewhere. An acute mental health hospital is not somewhere that anyone hopes to be in, but for those who do need it in their recovery journey, we now have facilities in York that the whole community can be proud of"

- Tina Drury, Managing Director at Your Homes Newcastle

"I was involved in the design process from the business case right through to the final elements of commissioning. I wanted to feedback particularly how the flow and feel of the interior …doesn’t look like a hospital, it’s so naturally light and the way the wards flow makes sense… People have been able to navigate around the building and across the wards easily and considering the size of the building that is quite an achievement. Having spent a considerable amount of time in the building after services have moved in I can say how friendly it feels, it has a good atmosphere and is a very pleasant place to work"

- Helen Lindsay, Capital Planning Officer, Tees Esk & Wear Valleys --NHS Foundation Trust).

Key People