When considering the right air conditioning unit for psychiatric intensive care units (PICUs), several factors are at play, explains Contour…
PICUs have dedicated wards for adult inmates to deliver inpatient mental health care assessment and full treatment to those suffering severe mental health disorders.
Due to the level of risk the patients pose to themselves and others, PICUs look after inmates who cannot be managed on open psychiatric wards.
With this in mind, architects and specifiers must search for an air conditioning guard that is safe and secure.
Service users in PICUs need a sense of belonging and the design can enhance or restrict these feelings.
The environment they’re in can increase or reduce feelings of physical security, promote/reduce mobility and impact the patients’ health.
Therefore, the key features to consider are anti-ligature, rounded edges and corners, high strength, grilles and having no gaps or joints.
Architects and specifiers are continually seeking ways to reduce the risk of self-harm and suicide in custodial settings, and it’s especially important for PICUs.
The high risk of vandalism, self-harm, and inflicted injuries to others in PICUs means specifiers should search for an anti-ligature air conditioning guard that is durable and able to withstand the demands of these environments.
When vandalism occurs, users can destruct an air conditioning guard until there are sharp objects or exposed ligatures. This causes a significant risk to staff and Service Users alike. For this reason, air conditioning units need to be durable to keep all service users safe.
Suicide risks can come from ligature points above head height and even from guards that are below waist height too.
For this reason, it’s necessary to select an air conditioning unit that is anti-ligature to keep individuals safe and secure. This is because air conditioning guards can be above head height and below head height as well.
Large grilles can pose ligature risks and can be used to place weapons to hurt other individuals. IP3X grilles ensure the grilles are anti-ligature and nothing can be attached to them.
A fully-sealed air conditioning guard with no gaps or joints is useful to fully protect all service users in a PICU.
PICUs, nowadays, provide increasing levels of freedom to Service Users, giving them access to certain home comforts. Whilst this may alleviate boredom – and subsequent stress – any visible gaps can pose opportunities for individuals to secure ligature points, stash contraband and damage appliances.
Therefore, it’s important to firmly secure air conditioning guards to a wall, using high-quality anti-pick mastic. Furthermore, they must undergo routine checks to ensure no gaps become present.
Corners and edges of air conditioning guards should also be a key design consideration. Any sharp element could inflict injury on others and the Service User themselves.
Rounded corners (or ‘bullnose’) not only provide a smoother surface, but they also make it more challenging for a Service User to damage the corner of the guard, increasing its longevity.
Of course, if Service Users are also unsteady on their feet, these rounded corners will also mitigate any risk of accidental injury if a user were to fall against it.
Exposed fixings and security locks can become a ligature risk for mental health patients.
When selecting an anti-ligature guard – whether air conditioning or radiator – pay close attention to the security locks and additional fixings.
With these anti-ligature features in place, there will be a comfortable environment that minimises injuries, whilst encouraging feelings of security.
When working within sensitive and caring environments like PICUs, Contour believes you can’t afford to compromise on key features. To discuss how to achieve a secure environment with air conditioning guards, contact the company today.
Contour can be contacted at;
Tel: 01952 290 498
Email: [email protected]
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