We greatly welcome this new facility and find the design to be pleasingly light and airy. However, it does pose a few problems.
Here is a summary of the review that we submitted to NHS Forth Valley after visiting the £35m facility in August 2018.
1) Disabled Parking
There is excellent provision of disabled/accessible parking to the rear of the GP and Minor Injuries.
However, this parking provision is further than the recommended distance to the closest Outpatient exit, which could cause difficulty to patients with mobility issues. We also feel that the drop-off closest to the Outpatient Centre is too far away to be functional.
We would recommend that the landscaped space between the Outpatient Centre and the GP & Minor Injuries Centre is changed to show 4 disabled parking bays.
We also advise that the Staff Entrance at the rear should have at least 2 disabled parking bays, as disabled staff should have their own parking provision.
2) Dropped kerb at drop off point
There is no dropped kerb at the drop off point to the rear of the GP and Minor Injuries. This is a major barrier to wheelchair users and those with poor mobility. This will force wheelchair users to manoeuvre their wheelchair onto the road way till they find a suitable dropped kerb to access the pavement. We strongly recommend that the drop off kerb is flush with the pavement/ walkway.
3) Main Entrance
Good to see wheelchairs provided at the main entrance but we saw no evidence of bariatric wheelchairs for larger users. We ask that bariatric wheelchairs are provided.
There is potentially not enough seating over the whole building given that we have an ageing population. In the main reception area and the x-ray department, there were too few seats with arm rests both sides - this is important to help an individual raise themselves from the seat. We were pleased to note, however, that there seemed sufficient seating for individuals of larger stature. We ask that more seating with two arm rests is provided.
We were surprised to note a lack of dementia-friendly signage, which we feel is important given that the population has a growing number of people with dementia. We found other issues as well, as follows:
some general signage was found to be too small and not at average height eye level on doors - this creates a problem for those with visual impairment.
signage for hearing loops was overly small and was at waist level at reception desks rather than being at eye level.
no signs to indicate where main entrances were to buildings (i.e. “Entrance”)
signage outside the building was poorly contrasting with the brickwork of the building itself and difficult to see, especially the brushed stainless steel sign to the rear of the GP and Minor Injuries - sign needs to be a dark colour, or mounted on a contrasting board so the image stands out and is legible.
6) Main GP reception area
It is large, light and airy with a lot of glass so it feels a pleasant space. The reception desks are excellent, with nice clear contrast and knee space for wheelchair visitors.
However, the many hard surfaces, including floor, walls and glazed areas, do not absorb noise and create a potentially uncomfortable and unsettling acoustic space, especially for hearing aid users and people with sensitive hearing. We ask that this is reviewed with a view to suppressing noise; by doing so, it will also aid privacy.
There is an issue with the internal pillars, which are painted white and could be a hazard to those with visual impairment. We ask that they have broad, dark colour banding at eye level to give contrast with their white background.
7) Disabled toilets
These corner accessible WC’s are exceptionally roomy and are well equipped. However, there were issues, one of the most concerning being the drop-down support rails, which do not remain in position when lifted upright but crash down.
The room could have been designed with a peninsular layout, which has the advantage of a right or left hand transfer from a wheelchair. The current layout requires a right hand transfer from wheelchair to toilet, which will not suit everybody. If there is the opportunity to remodel the toilet in future, we would strongly recommend the peninsular design.
The toilet unit itself does not comply with regulatory standards. A close coupled system is recommended with a backrest and top colostomy shelf. However, the infra-red non-contact flush is excellent!
Waste bins are foot operated with no handle and cannot be used by an individual in a wheelchair. These bins should either be replaced with a push top bin, or handle added.
We are alarmed by the drop-down support rails round the toilet which should have an over-lift and drop-down lock mechanism to hold them in place. The unlocked servo or clutch-type, which slowly descend are essential to aid wheelchair users who cannot stand and must pull the bars down once they are seated on the toilet. We strongly recommend these support rails are replaced in all toilets.