We were delighted to enjoy a tour of the Bellfield Centre on 15 November, just weeks before it was due to open to patients.
This new facility will provide short-term care, assessment or rehabilitation for people who require additional support following an illness or operation. It is a light, bright building with a welcoming and comfortable feel. It has excellent accessibility with wide corridors and we are very pleased with the inclusion of a Changing Places Toilet, which will benefit visitors with complex needs.
Overall, there is much to be commended about this building.
However, we did find a few issues that require remedy.
1) Accessible Toilets
Drop-down support rails - as with the GP and Minor Injuries Centre, the drop-down support rails round the toilet are an unsuitable design. They do not have an over-lift and drop-down lock mechanism to hold them in place. We strongly recommend these are replaced in all toilets so there is a clutch-type mechanism that controls the rail descent. This is an essential to aid wheelchair users who cannot stand and must pull the bars down once they are seated on the toilet.
Corner accessible toilet unit - although too late to modify, we recommend the peninsular layout which allows a wheelchair transfer from either side of the toilet.
2) Accessible Parking
Bay layout - the broken lines of the bay layout are non-standard and should be corrected to solid lines.
Approaching Tapered Footway Kerb at Entrance to Parking – unsuitable arrangement for pedestrians and wheelchair users alike and may cause a tripping hazard. Would suggest that the footway kerb ending is dropped in parallel.
Vertical signage - corridors have walls signs that are mounted on their sides so the text is vertical. This makes them awkward to read and is likely to present difficulties to those with dyslexia, dementia or other cognitive issues. We suggest these are replaced with horizontal signs.
Wall signs - more signage would help in locating rooms from a distance, in particular the toilets and service user rooms. There was also a lack of dementia-friendly signs for the bedroom doors and toilets to improve the ease of wayfinding.
Outside wayfinding map - the brushed metal board with silhouettes of buildings is difficult to interpret and understand and the text and location dots are also not easily visible. A more visually accessible board with more readily understood pictures would be preferable.