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New anti-ligature window helps increase safety and security in mental health units

13th February 2012

A new healthcare window designed to provide improved safety and security in mental health units is experiencing rapid take-up by NHS Trusts and NHS contractors.

The unique anti-ligature window was developed by Middlesbrough company Polar, a specialist in supplying windows, doors and curtain walling to the public sector, in conjunction with leading manufacturer Kawneer. It took three years to develop the product, with further variations subsequently being developed since the initial installations.

Development Background

Secure recovery units for mental health patients have a series of challenging requirements. They need to be welcoming and calming, rather than oppressive, and so natural light is important as well as the design of the unit. But, more importantly, they need to be absolutely secure, almost to the level of prison security, and offer maximum safety too.

Patients confined in these units can be incredibly resourceful, using ordinary cutlery, building fixtures like fire extinguishers or even pool balls in socks in their attempts to escape. In addition, where the danger of self-harm is also present, no projecting handles or locks, hinges or vents can be permitted. At the same time, the window has to have a secure opening feature for natural air along with its more traditional function of allowing daylight into rooms.

Unit Features

The specially designed AA 3110 Healthcare Solution window maximises natural light and ventilation while minimising the risk of self-harm for patients. It took a great deal of research work and practical testing in conjunction with experienced ward managers to ensure that this new window unit could not be used for escape or self-harm.

It is a horizontal sliding window with full anti-ligature features. An extremely versatile system, it is available in three security levels and can be adapted to the requirements of individual clients. An aesthetically pleasing window, it is designed to withstand severe and sustained attack from various objects from inside or out, enabling the AA 3110 to meet the demands of all NHS mental health security and ventilation needs.

Projects

Polar is winning a growing number of projects from NHS Trusts in the North East of England and Scotland for installation of this new unit, including Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trusts. Polar has also worked in conjunction with Laing O’Rourke on several anti-ligature window projects for Northumberland Tyne & Wear NHS Trust, as well as for Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, and most recently for the Dumfries and Galloway NHS Trust, where Polar installed 154 anti-ligature units.

Polar is also about to start two more projects with Laing O'Rourke in Morpeth, on new health centres, and is now on the second phase of a major project at Roseberry Park in Middlesbrough. It is significant that the unit specification for the second phase at Roseberry has not been altered at all from the first phase, carried out two years ago, and proof of this window's excellent design.

Polar managing director, John Wilson, commented: "A significant amount of development work went into this unit in conjunction with ward managers who have direct experience of such units in use, and its proven performance continues to give confidence to the many NHS Trusts now specifying it."

Anti-ligature Window