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Red Fish Healing Centre: Therapeutic Facility Design

Research indicates that a client or patient's physical environment plays an important therapeutic role in their recovery from mental illness or addiction.

Healing through space design

Every element of the Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction in Coquitlam, B.C., from green spaces to client rooms and treatment areas, has been designed with therapeutic benefits in mind.

The interior design will blend natural light, wood, stone and warm colours with the centre's unique environment and site history. Quiet places will help patients relax and spend time with loved ones given that maintaining meaningful relationships is an important part of recovery.

There will also be spaces for social and spiritual programs and activities. Clients will have access to community, cultural and recreational activities, as well as therapeutic, physical and vocational programs.

Features informed by trauma-informed practice

Most of our patients and clients have experienced traumatic events—often more than one. This trauma plays a role in people's illnesses and in their experiences with the mental health care system. To help our patients feel comfortable and safe, we are integrating trauma-informed practice in every aspect of the centre's design.

Examples include the following:

  • All client bedrooms in the purpose-built, 105-bed residential treatment facility will be private single rooms with ensuite bathrooms to ensure they feel comfortable and safe.
  • The centre will be the first building of its kind in the Lower Mainland that adjusts lighting throughout the day to mimic daytime sun patterns in a way that helps patients sleep. Our patients often don't have normal sleep cycles due to past trauma or anti-psychotic medication. This new feature, which aligns with current research, will help patients feel better by finding a natural sleep pattern and reducing their need for sleep medication.
  • Furniture, fixtures, textures and colours will boost comfort and safety by providing a calm, healing environment.
  • Exam rooms, counselling rooms, admission areas and other spaces will have two ways of entering and leaving, helping clients who have experienced trauma to feel safe.

Other therapeutic design features

Several other building features have been specifically chosen and designed to help staff and physicians deliver within the new care model. Examples include the following:

  • Shared spaces for art, music and recreation therapy.
  • Beautiful outdoor space, including therapeutic and medicine gardens.
  • A therapeutic kitchen that will help clients learn life skills, such as preparing meals. 
  • A large, virtually enabled multi-purpose room that can be used for community engagement and education.
  • State-of-the-art technology that will allow clinicians and leaders to connect with patients and providers across the province.

SOURCE: Red Fish Healing Centre: Therapeutic Facility Design ( )
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