The evaluation of mental health buildings

Matthews, Rowan (1984) The evaluation of mental health buildings. Doctoral thesis, Polytechnic of North London.


The aim of this thesis is to clarify the nature and role of evaluation of mental health buildings, and to make recommendations about the design of mental health buildings and about how they should be evaluated. Reference is made to examples of evaluation work, in particular to work carried out under the Mental Health Buildings Programme in the DHSS.

The thesis is presented in three sections:

Section 1 discusses the concept of evaluation in relation to mental health buildings, and critically reviews many of the ways in which evaluation has been attempted. It is argued that while the term 'evaluation' can be applied to a range of work, evaluation of mental health buildings presents special problems, and, if it is to be reliable, valid, significant and potentially useful, should follow certain criteria. It is argued that these criteria can be drawn from various branches of social science; evaluation can be strengthened by referring to environmental psychology, to the evaluation of social programmes and to service evaluation, and drawing on their approaches.

Section 2 then outlines the aims and development of the Mental Healthy Buildings Evaluation Programme and reports a selection of data from the evaluation of two DHSS - sponsored ’model’ service developments (evaluation of residential accommodation for mentally handicapped people, and of psychiatric day and hospital provision). The programme was set up by the author to evaluate these developments in ways which would produce information of value in future planning and design of mental health facilities, and detailed recommendations are offered.

Section 3 reviews critically the Mental Health Buildings Evaluation Programme work presented in Section 2, outlines subsequent policy developments of relevance and draws conclusions concerning the evaluation of mental health buildings in future.

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