Why Ligature Resistant Products and Universal Design Are Important For All Healthcare Environments

by JRSBlogWriterJune 14, 2016

Universal Design in Healthcare Environments

The use of ligature resistant products in behavioral healthcare is evident. However, why should hospitals, emergency care facilities, and rehabilitation or nursing homes be considering them?

The answer to that question lies in the trend toward Universal Design. Universal Design is inclusive design. It accommodates everyone regardless of his or her age, ability, or mental state.  There are many benefits to Universal Design. Some are financial, and some are aesthetic, but they all center on the patient’s quality of care and reducing patient stigma.

Risk To Funding

Healthcare providers have always wanted to create an environment that is safe, but retrofitting a facility is often very costly. Today, institutions are faced with the possibility of losing funding if they do not meet certain standards, which can be far more expensive than the retrofit itself.

Consider that on December 3, 2014, Brittney Bennetts, a patient at Timberlawn Mental Health System in Dallas hanged herself from a closet doorknob using a torn bed sheet. Timberlawn found they were faced with the possibility of losing up to $20M in funding and even closing down altogether.

To eliminate tragedies such as the one at Timberlawn, various codes, standards, and guidelines have been created. Those codes, standards, and guidelines may vary somewhat from state to state, and funding organizations, but the result is the same. Healthcare facilities must comply, or they risk funding.

Universal Design Provides Flexibility

In the past, it was common for healthcare facilities to have a few ADA compliant, bariatric, and behavioral healthcare rooms available. However, it is when those rooms are already occupied that trouble arises.

When you are at capacity, where do you put a patient with special needs when those rooms are not available? Do you leave rooms empty just in case a particular need crops up?

Healthcare facilities that adopt Universal Design no longer have these space constraint issues. All rooms are built to accommodate all patients because you never know who will be coming through your door at any given moment.

We recently received a special request from a doctor on behalf of one of his patients. An autistic young man had recently harmed himself when he repeatedly kicked the porcelain toilet in his bathroom causing it to shatter. The porcelain broke into sharp pieces but fortunately, his parents were able to get to him quickly thus preventing serious injury. Never in a million years did they imagine something as simple as a toilet could become a danger to their son. In response to that request, we were able to donate a stainless steel ligature resistant toilet to the family so they wouldn’t have to worry about that particular situation happening again.

If this young man had walked into your hospital and required a room where would you have put him? Could he have gone into any room, or would special accommodations be needed?

Universal Design Removes Stigmas

Patients entering a healthcare facility have enough on their minds to be forced to deal with being singled out as needing a bariatric or wheelchair compliant room, or one that is fitted out to accommodate the needs of a potentially suicidal patient.

It is widely known that environment plays a significant role in the health and recovery of patients. Eliminating that stigma is the first step in creating an environment that aids in healing and recovery.

Thankfully, today products are designed to not only meet ADA, bariatric, and ligature resistant requirements but they also have an aesthetic style. Patients will not notice that their shower valve, faucet, and sink are ADA compliant and ligature resistant. They will only see that they are pleasing to their environment and create a calm surrounding.

If you are interested in learning more about ligature resistant fixtures or other Whitehall Manufacturing products, please contact your location rep or browse our website.

Note: BestCare products are designed to decrease the probability that they may be utilized as an apparatus for ligature. It is not a replacement for professionals who are trained in the proper evaluation, management, and supervision of persons at risk of suicide.