Introduction

Selecting and installing furniture and fixtures and implementing design that meet the needs of a diverse veteran population can be a challenge for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) design professionals. VA mental health facilities are unique in that they serve geriatric patients, patients with physical disabilities (such as spinal cord injuries or amputations), patients with traumatic brain injury, bariatric patients, and patients with concurrent mental/medical treatment needs.

Healthcare furniture or equipment considered to be appropriate in a general healthcare setting may not only be unnecessary in a VA mental health unit, they may be potentially hazardous for mental health patients, staff or both. These hazards – which include suicide, injuries, violence and hygiene-related issues – are more likely to occur in mental health units located within general VA medical centers due to the mental state of those patients seeking help.

That is why the Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes the crucial role that mental health facility design plays in patient safety, welfare and recovery outcomes and how design can continue to help its ongoing efforts to transform its mental healthcare delivery system.

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