Testing and Innovation

Testing and Innovation

In a sector where there have been few formal standards for products to be independently tested and appraised, this work stream aims to create a means of evaluating products so that fair comparisons can be made, validated and verified. The result will be that the effectiveness of products and their suitability for a project can be quickly assessed through desk research, streamlining the product selection process – saving time and money for both the suppliers and end clients. We believe that this would also permit more time to be spent on designing products and environments for recovery and not just for robustness.

The work stream welcomes input from suppliers and manufacturers of products aimed at the mental healthcare market.

Standards in mental health design

One of the issues faced by those sourcing products for the mental health environment is understanding the product’s suitability. Currently, there is little guidance, and few recognised and agreed standards. Testing that is carried out is often on a project-by-project basis.  Consequently, there has been:

  • An inconsistent approach to both product specification and performance which has had an impact on the health, safety and well-being of patients and staff. This has contributed to increased levels of self-harm and in extreme cases, to loss of life
  • Unnecessary duplication of testing by individual NHS trusts and other organisations leading to wasted financial resources
  • A lack of guidance to inform decisions, balancing capital cost, quality, best value and whole life performance.

The DiMHN viewpoint

We believe that this lack of consensus on guidance and standards is detrimental to healthcare provision and patient safety.  We further believe that nationally agreed standards would help to improve product performance and reduce the need for multiple testing, leading to safer environments and lower costs for all concerned.

2018 Workshops

Testing for products used in mental healthcare environments is currently inconsistent and often repeated on every single project – adding cost and often delaying the process. And when products go wrong in live mental health environments, the consequences can be extreme, risking service user and staff safety.  That’s not acceptable as far as we’re concerned, and with your support, we’re working to change things.

After a lot of research and a couple of workshops with industry experts, we’ve got a clear path forward in terms of how we’ll write the testing guidance and then test and certify products. We’ve also formed a partnership with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to create the standards and are now on the final stretch in the push for relevant, repeatable and independent product testing and accreditation.

Over the next three months, we’ll be holding a series of workshops to get your input to the technical requirements for the Guide to Specification. Four sessions will be held at the BRE in Watford as follows:

  • Anti-ligature (all products) – 18th July 
  • Robustness (all products) – early September (TBC)
  • Doorsets and ironmongery (product specific, ie. anti-barricade) – late September (TBC)
  • Windows (product specific, ie. air and light transfer) – mid October (TBC)

If all goes well, we should be in a position to have draft guidance prepared and ready for public consultation in the November. But that’s dependent upon getting your support.

Work in progress

In February 2017, we held a workshop with representatives from NHS Trusts, private-sector mental healthcare providers, and window and door manufacturers at the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in Watford.

A brain-storming session allowed us to pinpoint the objectives for future testing frameworks. We divided the 12 delegates into two teams and asked them to consider assessment criteria, the outcomes we’re seeking, and how we will measure success.

The meeting was lively, informative and productive, but it’s only the start of the process. Phase 2 will involve distilling our workshop results into a consultation document, which we’ll be sending out for review and input. We’ll also be undertaking desk-based research on existing standards, exploring the gaps and looking at the best ways to fill them.

Philip Ross, head of the Testing and Innovation work stream, commented, ‘We’ve got a long way to go, but there’s a real enthusiasm for tackling the problem of testing standards. We’d like to encourage any interested parties to have their say now and help us make the changes that will deliver both financial savings and improved safety.’

December 2017

Product testing and accreditation – can you help?

We’ve been working with BRE over the past 2-3 years and intensively over the past couple of months developing an independent and repeatable format to assess new and existing products for use in Mental Health environments.

We believe there are significant benefits that come with this, not only the ability to spend more time considering the recovery aspects of a design and help de-risk specification of products for clients, but we hope it will help encourage innovation from the market, save money in terms of time spent reviewing products and testing them.

We’re in the final stages of presenting the business case to the board of BRE for their investment to develop the standards and we’d love to hear from you with the support for this development.

NHS & Private Providers
If you work in estates, capital or clinical at an NHS or private provider, would you request DIMHN/BRE tested products?  Why?  A brief email commenting on this with your job title would be great and go a long way.

If you are a manufacturer, would you test your products?  Why?  What benefits do you see to your organisation with independent and repeatable product testing?

We’re looking for responses by the 15th of December – please send your supporting emails to admin@dimhn.org

Join this work stream