testing and

Testing & 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.

Draft Testing Guidance - Consultation

After five years of hard work with our partners at BRE, the moment has come to share the output from various workshops across the UK, and seeking input from overseas research on the topic of ligature and robustness to capture the real challenges within mental health environments and how we can better assess the suitability of one product over another in this context. Read more

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.

Latest News

June 2019

Draft Testing Guidance – Consultation

After five years of hard work with our partners at BRE, the moment has come to share the output from various workshops across the UK, and seeking input from overseas research on the topic of ligature and robustness to capture the real challenges within mental health environments and how we can better assess the suitability of one product over another in this context.

DIMHN Design Guide for consultation – 5 June 2019

Comments Handling Document – DIMHN Design Guide

The testing guide has three main parts.

All products:

  1. Ligature performance
  2. Robustness

Category specific:

  1. Doorsets, hardware and windows

It’s important to highlight this is not a pass or fail testing regime, but one that is created to ‘test and declare’ performance.  There will be performance categories that no product will achieve today, helping encourage tomorrow’s innovation or simply helping staff better understand the risks still present in products and create better risk management procedures.

We’re seeking input from across the industry during our consultation process with a designated comments handling document, in line with BRE’s standard consultation procedure.  Now is the time to make you voice heard.

We appreciate the time and effort you’ll spend reviewing and commenting.

If you’re looking for more background on the testing, please download the keynote presentation from our conference in May.

DIMHN Keynote Speech – May 19

DIMHN – Comprehensive testing guide

Thank you to all involved – both for your support and input to date and ongoing.

April 2019

We’re making good progress with the new testing guidance for products and building components used in Mental Health environments that we’ve been working on with BRE  during the last 4 years. We’ve reviewed over 55 pages so far, covering ligature performance and specific considerations for doorsets, hardware and windows. We’ve covered a lot and we’re immensely proud of how many people have helped across the country; providing their time, insights and some tragic examples from when things go wrong – all with a focus on helping create better environments for those with mental ill health to stay safe and recover in. We’re all on track for releasing the first draft of the testing initiative at the DiMHN conference next month.

Huge thanks to all involved over the past years.

Product Testing

We now have an early-stage draft for how we’ll assess the robustness of products used within mental health environments and has been shared with members only at this point (Log in here).  We’re looking for feedback from you about the direction of the draft.  We’d like to hear what you think by the 16th November, simply by emailing admin@dimhn.org.  You can capture your thoughts by adding notes to the document itself and sending it back, or by just emailing comments.

Please remember, these standards are designed to include all products, grading them on a scale, rather than pass and fail.  This is to ensure we create a testing regime that can be used for the wide scope of care pathway requirements.

Once we’ve received the feedback, we’ll start developing the various test methods into a formal test procedure before combining this with the output from the other workshops and issuing as a formal draft ahead of our conference next year.

We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, so if you have any existing test methods you use internally or from other sectors that we should be aware of, please email them to us and we’ll forward to BRE.

Any questions in the meantime, please get in touch pross@dimhn.org


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 last 3 months we’ve held a series of workshops to get your input on the technical requirements for the Guide to Specification. We held four sessions at the BRE in Watford. To download the presentations from any of our workshops please join us as a member

  • Anti-ligature (all products)
  • Robustness (all products)
  • Doorsets and ironmongery (product specific, ie. anti-barricade)
  • Windows (product specific, ie. air and light transfer)

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

2017 Workshops

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 was only the start of the process. Phase 2 involved distilling our workshop results into a consultation document.

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.

You can find a copy of the consultation document on our members section.

Product testing and accreditation 

We’ve been working with BRE intensively over the past year  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’ve presented the business case to the board of BRE for their investment to develop the standards.