Creating a sense of home with institutional security in North Battleford
Province of Saskatchewan
Province of Saskatchewan
North Battleford, SK
In 2011, the Province of Saskatchewan announced the replacement of their century-old Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford (SHNB). They determined that replacing and expanding the existing mental health and forensic facility, and developing an integrated correctional mental health program, would be a complementary solution to meet some of the province's complex needs. Could a correctional facility that was also a mental-health hospital deliver a sense of healing and wellness, while maintaining safety and security?
*None of the individuals in the photos are staff or clients*
Director of Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford
Design thinking and LEAN principles were required to create this state-of-the-art facility, which has a combination of human-centric and therapeutic services that need to be delivered safely and efficiently. To help reduce the stigma of mental illness, we were tasked with designing a facility that did not feel like an institution.
Through extensive user group meetings, we consulted with over 50 patients, as well as clinical and administrative stakeholders, to refine the schematic design. Creating a more inviting space required well-lit areas, private client rooms, and greater access to outdoor areas. For safety, key features included clear sight lines, as well as anti-barricade, anti-ligature, and tamper-resistant fixtures for clients, staff and visitors. Given North Battleford’s demographics, we consulted First Nations Elders to ensure Indigenous culture was addressed appropriately in the facility through artwork, and in the design of the clinical and therapeutic areas.
With its bright, open spaces for therapy, recreation and meeting, as well as more private rooms, Saskatchewan Hospital feels more like a home than a hospital for clients and their families — a functional home providing the highest level of clinical care.
Using evidence-based design principles, we incorporated LEAN processes for greater user efficiency, security and safety, while creating a series of non-institutional-like spaces. Natural light is used as a central feature for therapeutic spaces, providing an uplifting, experiential environment. With the corrections and psychiatric areas separated by a long corridor, clear circulation pathways provide efficient and secure interaction between front-of-house and back-of-house staff functions.
To address Indigenous healing practices, a sweat lodge and smudge room complement the therapeutic and rehab areas of both the clients and the forensic units. These areas include special ventilation and First Nations symbols embedded into the floor patterns to accommodate cultural and ceremonial rituals.
Nature also plays a vital role in the healing process of the space. Enclosed courtyards act as extensions of the building, creating an additional 'room' for recreation and therapeutic activities. Envelope materials reflect the local environment, highlighting the surrounding landscape of rolling hills and prairie grasslands — creating a sense of place that heals and improves well-being.
The new facility creates an environment that encourages the multidisciplinary team at Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford to recognize their commitment to holistic and progressive psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation. Patients develop necessary skills and access the support they need to enhance their quality of life, maximize their personal autonomy, and succeed in the achievement of their rehabilitation goals.
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