The architecture of the psychiatric milieu

Golembiewski, Jan A. (2013) The architecture of the psychiatric milieu. Facilities, 31(9/10), p. 379.

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The last time a peer-reviewed volume on the future of mental health facilities was produced was in 1959, following a symposium organised by the American Psychological Association. The consensus was easy enough to follow and still resonates today: the best spaces to treat psychiatric illness will be in smaller, less restrictive units that offer more privacy and allow greater personalisation of space – possibly a converted hotel (Goshen, 1959). In some way, all those ideals have come to pass. An ideal typology was never established, but even so, units have shrunk from thousands of beds to units that typically house no more than 50 patients. Patients are generally more independent and are free to wander (within a unit) as they please. But the trend toward smaller and freer is reversing. This change is not driven by a desire to find the ideal building nor better models of care, but by growing concerns about budgets, self-harm and psychiatric violence.

This issue of the Facilities comes at a time when the healthcare design is increasingly dominated by codes, statutes and guidelines. But the articles herein are a call to stop and think. We are not at the point where guidelines can be helpful, because they do not embody any depth of knowledge nor wisdom. These articles are intended to inject some new research on psychiatric/environmental interactions and also to remind planners and managers that guidelines might not tackle a core misunderstanding: fear-management about patient safety and the safety of society is not the purpose of the psychiatric facility. It is purpose is to create spaces that are suitable for improving the well-being of the mentally ill.

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ID Code: 93158
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Article Type: Guest editorial From: Facilities, Volume 31, Issue 9/10, a special issue
Keywords: Property Management, Built Environment
DOI: 10.1108/f.2013.06931iaa.001
ISSN: 0263-2772
Deposited On: 23 Feb 2016 23:27
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2016 01:44

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