Ellesmere House: Low Secure Unit

St Georges Hospital, Stafford

Sector: Healthcare

Patient Lounge

View of the New Patient Lounges and Existing Building from the Garden.

Contact the Unit
If you wish to contact the hospital please call 0300 790 7000. We are the Architects who designed the Unit, this page and the contact number on the top right relate to the design of the building and are not the telephone number for the ward.

Facilities for Patients with Psychiatric Intensive Care needs were in 2008 outsourced to hospitals outside the County, not only putting financial pressure on the Trust; but making it difficult for Patients to benefit from local support and making it more time consuming for relatives to visit. The trust applied for funding to build a new two Phase step up step down facility.

Low Secure mental health design standards at the time were in draft format and this was to be the third facility in the country and so was used as a test case to develop and establish the brief design and technical standards. At the end of phase 1, a lessons learnt process allowed improved standards to be transferred to and incorporated into the phase 2 development next door.

The Trust were faced with transporting Patients to facilities out of County and a decision was made to construct a new step up step down facility at the hospital designed around the existing Michael Flannagan Building, a former Isolation Hospital which was disused and in a poor state of repair. The Isolation Ward had been empty for many years and uses for it had previously been discarded as no one wanted to work in a cold building with drafty windows, high ceilings and layout that did not lend itself to modern day use. The Michael Flannagan building was considered of historic importance but was not listed, but needed Conservation consent which was a lengthy process for a building that did not cater in conservation terms to mental health use.

The building was refurbished as part of the two Phase development. This was the first 'new' Mental Health facility in Staffordshire.

Phase 1 involved the construction of a new 12 en-suite bedroom unit in the grounds of a former Isolation Ward.

The unit also provides a: Staff Base, Ward Office, Patient Lounge, Quiet Lounge and Treatment Room in the new build ward; with Patient Dining room, Kitchen, ADL Kitchen, Art Room, Gymnasium and Technology Activities Area, Ward Pantry and a Laundry in the ground and first floors of the fully refurbished existing building.  Outdoor activities are provided in a secure walled garden to the rear and secure landscaped courtyard.

Patients undergo a full programme of Life skills to prepare them for life in the outside world.

The design involved internal glazed screens to provide staff with good vision of patients whilst not intruding on their privacy. Windows and external doors in the new and refurbished areas were all carefully designed to ensure that they were robust, prevented escape, and glass was secure and difficult to break, whilst they still provided good natural daylight and views out.

The flat roof to the lounge was designed as a green roof to separate the new build ward from the existing building as well as providing a living warm roof.  Rooflights were incorporated into the length of internal circulation routes in the new building opening using solar control and able to provide good quality daylight as well as pull natural ventilation through the circulation spaces. A high level of insulation was incorporated into the new build part of the building to reduce heat loss. Underfloor heating is incorporated into the ground floor patient areas to remove the need for radiators that would interfere with the floor plan and provide points of ligature, and this allowed a very low level of heat usage in the building due to the nature of the heat output in the floor.

Security and Technical Standards
The unit is constructed to robust standards, which included carrying out crash tests to internal glazing, escape scenarios, review of ligature ability, review of robustness of furniture and fixtures and fittings used. Because of the nature of Patients staying in the unit, standards are severe and in some cases prison standard.

Consideration of colour use and the use of art for therapy and end user inclusion.

In addition to providing good aesthetics and modern high quality accommodation, it was necessary to adhere to NHS standards of privacy dignity and infection control; as well as the needs of Patients with Learning Disabilities.

Extensive discussion took place with the conservation officer to achieve approval for the proposals including agreement on external materials, the works to refurbish the existing building including discussion about the need to replace the existing sash windows with aluminium secure windows, secure walling and fencing to the perimeter of the garden, use of glazed links overlooking the internal courtyards, the entrance footpaths to the front, and the relationship of the new ward blocks to the existing building.


View of corridor showing Art for Health Artwork produced by the Patients..

Status: Completed October 2010
Value: £2.5m
Type: New Build
Contract: Full service Traditional Contract RIBA Stages 1 - 7.
Client: South Staffs & Shropshire NHS Trust
Architect & CA: Architect whilst at Hulme Upright
Quantity Surveyor: Summers Inman
Structural Engineer: ABA Consulting Engineers
M&E Consultant: Building Services Management (BSM)
Principal Designer: Summers Inman
Contractor: Wygar Construction