Patients benefit greatly from being able to use an outside garden space in a mental health setting. In this instance, the fence itself needed to be 3m high, un-climbable and secure. We also wanted to install something that would enhance the environment in the garden, and was definitely less intimidating than a steel wire fence.
We chose to use a treated wood frame with stainless steel panels. The panels provide a smooth surface with no hand or foot holds, and no ligature points. They are also angled to provide an acoustic baffle. Our experience within the healthcare sector has shown that the reduction of noise within a ward or outdoor space has an overall calming effect, especially in settings where there is the potential for distress and agitation. We painted the panels with different pastel blue and green colours generally associated with well-being and lowering aggression, softening the solid outline of the fence.
Although 3m high, the fence does not look intimidating and enhances the garden space by reflecting the green grass and blue sky colours that provide its backdrop. Patients are able to wander freely in the garden, without supervision from staff, enhancing their independence.