An integrated package of Altro Safety Floors, walls and ceilings has been installed in a brand new flagship Spinal Injury Centre in Dorset, run by disability charity Livability, creating a homely, design-led unit with a high level of aesthetic appeal.
Livability Holton Lee has recently undergone a total refurbishment, carried out by main contractor Stepnell Ltd, transforming the existing care home into a wellbeing discovery centre and purpose-built Spinal Injury Centre.
This provides respite and rehabilitation services to people with spinal cord injury, offering both short-term residential and drop-in care.
A spokesperson for the Livability Estates Team says: “The Spinal Injury Centre is a flagship facility for Livability, and part of the formal pathway of care for people who need spinal injury support. The unit is designed for people who have left hospital but need some additional support and rehabilitation before going home, so our vision was to create a warm, homely and non-clinical space where they would feel relaxed and comfortable.”
Western Design Architects create WOW factor
He continues, “Choosing the Altro products was very much a collaborative team effort between Livability, Altro, Elite Interiors and Western Design Architects. The design team was all very much of one mind, in that we wanted to create a feel-good ‘wow factor’, with a warm, homely colourful look, non-clinical, using contrasting designs and colours to be both decorative and to help with wayfinding and accessibility for those with visual impairment.
“We felt that wood-look flooring would be ideal for the areas in which residents would be relaxing, such as the dining room, lounge and bedrooms. It has a warmth that can make an environment feel like home. Altro Wood Safety is ideal for this environment.
“We wanted this same flooring to work hard for us in other ways too, so we also used it for decorative edging around the corridors, reception and communal areas to create wayfinding around the unit, and show clearly where the floor and wall meet. This was coupled with Altro Reliance 25 heavy duty safety flooring.
“The homely yet professional theme was continued for the wet rooms and en-suite bathrooms in the Livability Spinal Injury Centre. These are private areas where people need to feel comfortable and relaxed during their stay, but safety and hygiene are also key. For the floors we chose Altro Pisces, an excellent safety surface for wet environments because it performs in wet or dry and with bare feet or shoes, so it’s ideal for both staff and residents.”
“We felt that all-white walls would be too clinical for the bathrooms,” says Livability, “and we wanted to add some colour and interest. Altro Whiterock Satins hygienic wall sheet is ideal for this because it has a strong decorative appeal, and it’s also proven in terms of hygiene.
“We chose a pale lilac called ‘Malva’ for three of the walls, and a powerful dark rich purple called ‘Viola’ for one statement wall. This gives great impact, and it’s as far away from a hospital bathroom as you can get!
“Once the design team had selected the Altro products, Western Design Architects went away to bring our vision to life, design the interior and create a CAD model so we could see what the finished article would look like. It was a thrilling process to be involved in.”
Colour and design to differentiate between the walls and floors
Jonathan Turvey, director at Western Design Architects, says: “The common language of those designing the look and ethos of the new Spinal Unit was that it should never look like a hospital, and should feel welcoming and warm. The clever use of different Altro flooring colours and designs to differentiate between the walls and floors ensures that wayfinding in the unit is clear, but also in keeping with the overarching colours and themes, so it never compromises the design.
“We also wanted to create a strong contrast between the communal and private areas, using Altro Wood Safety flooring in bedrooms and strong Altro Whiterock colours in the bathrooms. Overall, I feel we achieved the perfect balance of design, comfort and practicality, and created a beautiful place for people to improve and receive the support they need — which is always a challenge in care environments.”
The Spinal Injury Centre facility was completed a year ago and was opened for a pilot phase by HRH The Princess Royal.
The unit’s service manager and Fellow of the Royal College of Nurses, Fiona Stephenson, is delighted that the centre is now ready and thrilled with how it looks and feels.
The centre is due to open following the pilot phase with the service partners.
Fiona says: “First impressions last a long time, and the unit has a very powerful ‘wow factor’ that stays with you. It looks stunning; fresh, clean, welcoming, cheerful, stylish and comfortable; all the things the people who come here need. The Altro products play a large part in creating this wonderful environment.
“The wayfinding using the two types of flooring works so well; it creates a flow in the whole facility and also keeps the colour scheme consistent. It’s subtle, yet very effective. Everyone loves the bright purple walls in the bathrooms, very striking and something you might choose for your own home.
“There has been only positive feedback from everyone who has been here. We have seen professionals from all areas, and Altro brought visitors from Scandinavia who were very impressed. As a holistic, flagship facility it is second to none and I am so proud to be part of it – we are offering something very special and ground-breaking in this sector.”
Altro products were used elsewhere in the unit too. Altro Stronghold 30 specialist safety flooring was used in the kitchens and food servery, whilst Altro’s wall protection system provides a much needed solution, as Livability’s spokesperson explains: “There is a lot of traffic in the unit, from wheelchairs, trolleys and other equipment that could potentially damage the walls. We wanted to avoid this and the added expense of redecoration, so Altro recommended we install their Altro Fortis Titanium wall protection. This is not only a very practical product, but it looks good too, so it can be incorporated into the colour scheme.”