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Altro integrated package brings feel-good factor to flagship spinal injury centre

An integrated package of Altro floors, walls and ceilings has been installed in a brand new flagship Spinal Injury Centre in Dorset, run by disability charity Livability, creating a homely, design-led unit with a high level of aesthetic appeal.

Livability Holton Lee has recently undergone a total refurbishment, carried out by main contractor Stepnell Ltd, transforming the existing care home into a wellbeing discovery centre and purpose-built Spinal Injury Centre. This provides respite and rehabilitation services to people with spinal cord injury, offering both short-term residential and drop-in care.

A spokesperson for the Livability Estates Team says: “The Spinal Injury Centre is a flagship facility for Livability, and part of the formal pathway of care for people who need spinal injury support. The unit is designed for people who have left hospital but need some additional support and rehabilitation before going home, so our vision was to create a warm, homely and non-clinical space where they would feel relaxed and comfortable.”

He continues, “Choosing the Altro products was very much a collaborative team effort between Livability, Altro, Elite Interiors and Western Design Architects. The design team was all very much of one mind, in that we wanted to create a feel-good ‘wow factor’, with a warm, homely colourful look, non-clinical, using contrasting designs and colours to be both decorative and to help with wayfinding and accessibility for those with visual impairment.

“We felt that wood-look flooring would be ideal for the areas in which residents would be relaxing, such as the dining room, lounge and bedrooms. It has a warmth that can make an environment feel like home. Altro Wood Safety is ideal for this environment. 

“We wanted this same flooring to work hard for us in other ways too, so we also used it for decorative edging around the corridors, reception and communal areas to create wayfinding around the unit, and show clearly where the floor and wall meet. This was coupled with Altro Reliance 25 heavy duty safety flooring.

“The homely yet professional theme was continued for the wet rooms and en-suite bathrooms in the Livability Spinal Injury Centre. These are private areas where people need to feel comfortable and relaxed during their stay, but safety and hygiene are also key. For the floors we chose Altro Pisces, an excellent safety surface for wet environments because it performs in wet or dry and with bare feet or shoes, so it’s ideal for both staff and residents.” 

“We felt that all-white walls would be too clinical for the bathrooms,” says Livability, “and we wanted to add some colour and interest. Altro Whiterock Satins hygienic wall sheet is ideal for this because it has a strong decorative appeal, and it’s also proven in terms of hygiene.

“We chose a pale lilac called ‘Malva’ for three of the walls, and a powerful dark rich purple called ‘Viola’ for one statement wall. This gives great impact, and it’s as far away from a hospital bathroom as you can get!

“Once the design team had selected the Altro products, Western Design Architects went away to bring our vision to life, design the interior and create a CAD model so we could see what the finished article would look like. It was a thrilling process to be involved in.”

Jonathan Turvey, director at Western Design Architects, says: “The common language of those designing the look and ethos of the new Spinal Unit was that it should never look like a hospital, and should feel welcoming and warm. The clever use of different Altro flooring colours and designs to differentiate between the walls and floors ensures that wayfinding in the unit is clear, but also in keeping with the overarching colours and themes, so it never compromises the design.

“We also wanted to create a strong contrast between the communal and private areas, using Altro Wood Safety flooring in bedrooms and strong Altro Whiterock colours in the bathrooms. Overall, I feel we achieved the perfect balance of design, comfort and practicality, and created a beautiful place for people to improve and receive the support they need — which is always a challenge in care environments.”

The Spinal Injury Centre facility was completed a year ago and was opened for a pilot phase by HRH The Princess Royal. The unit’s service manager and Fellow of the Royal College of Nurses, Fiona Stephenson, is delighted that the centre is now ready and thrilled with how it looks and feels. The centre is due to open following the pilot phase with the service partners.

Fiona says: “First impressions last a long time, and the unit has a very powerful ‘wow factor’ that stays with you. It looks stunning; fresh, clean, welcoming, cheerful, stylish and comfortable; all the things the people who come here need. The Altro products play a large part in creating this wonderful environment.

“The wayfinding using the two types of flooring works so well; it creates a flow in the whole facility and also keeps the colour scheme consistent. It’s subtle, yet very effective. Everyone loves the bright purple walls in the bathrooms, very striking and something you might choose for your own home.

“There has been only positive feedback from everyone who has been here. We have seen professionals from all areas, and Altro brought visitors from Scandinavia who were very impressed. As a holistic, flagship facility it is second to none and I am so proud to be part of it – we are offering something very special and ground-breaking in this sector.” 

Altro products were used elsewhere in the unit too. Altro Stronghold 30 specialist safety flooring was used in the kitchens and food servery, whilst Altro’s wall protection system provides a much needed solution, as Livability’s spokesperson explains: “There is a lot of traffic in the unit, from wheelchairs, trolleys and other equipment that could potentially damage the walls. We wanted to avoid this and the added expense of redecoration, so Altro recommended we install their Altro Fortis Titanium wall protection. This is not only a very practical product, but it looks good too, so it can be incorporated into the colour scheme.”

The products used:
Altro Wood Safety is an attractive, general purpose 2mm wood-look available in a range of designs with different plank sizes and shades including a bamboo-look fine-line design and wide plank classic and rustic designs, helping to create the right look for areas where people live and work.

The product is designed to cope with medium to heavy traffic and has sustained slip resistance for the lifetime of the floor. It’s also a perfect partner for a variety of wall shades and finishes, from wall cladding to metal and glass, making design simpler.

Altro Reliance 25 is a heavy-duty safety floor available in a choice of 27 colours – an ideal solution for tough areas. It can cope with high levels of foot and wheeled traffic without compromising on slip resistance and provides additional comfort underfoot.

Altro Pisces is the perfect choice for ‘home from home’ environments where safety remains a top priority. For wet environments, it provides high levels of slip resistance whether wet or dry, in shoes or barefoot. Altro Pisces offers 16 soft-look shades to deliver the soft appearance of domestic interiors, with the lifetime sustained slip resistance you expect from Altro.

Altro Whiterock Satins is a versatile and sophisticated hygienic wall sheet and the perfect way to use colour to subtly create a mood. It’s available in a range of solid, decorative, satin shades — from soothing and healing through to bright and energetic. It provides the impact resistance and hygiene you would expect from Altro Whiterock, with a stain-resistant, wipe-clean surface.

Altro Whiterock hygienic ceilings complement Altro Whiterock hygienic wall sheets to provide a complete hygienic, sealed system. Perfect for environments where rigorous hygiene requirements are stipulated, Altro Whiterock hygienic ceilings form an impervious, virtually maintenance-free system which can be hosed down in situ and provide a bright, durable surface which helps reduce condensation. They can be installed as a fully suspended system.

Altro Stronghold 30 achieves Altro’s highest rating for slip resistance and is designed to minimise risk in areas exposed to grease, oils and fats for the lifetime of the flooring. As well as helping to keep staff safe from slips, it also helps reduce their fatigue, thanks to its 3mm thickness, which provides noise reduction and comfort underfoot.

Altro Fortis Titanium has been specifically designed to protect doors and plasterboard walls from scrapes and knocks, or more serious dents and holes caused by wheeled traffic. Available in 10 colours, this is a dense product, impervious and resistant to bumps and features a lightly textured, wipe-clean surface which camouflages scuffs, keeping the wall area looking better for longer.

For more information visit www.altro.co.uk

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About Sarah OBeirne

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