Thomas Embling Hospital takes top honours at European Healthcare Design Awards 2020
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Hospital based care 01 October 2020

Thomas Embling Hospital takes top honours at European Healthcare Design Awards 2020

Thomas Embling Hospital’s new Secure Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (SPICU) has won the 2020 Mental Health Design Award category at the European Healthcare Design Awards.   

The facility was recognised for demonstrating how a therapeutic environment that supports care and recovery can be achieved within a secure mental healthcare facility. 

The design features: 

  • views of the nearby Yarra Bend Park from every bedroom, providing patients with plenty of natural light and promoting feelings of hope about their potential for recovery 
  • bedrooms with ready access to private and secure outdoor spaces 
  • widened corridors with large window views for patients to move freely within the facility without feeling crowded or contained
  • centralised living and dining spaces that can be opened or closed to suit different needs 
  • seclusion rooms designed to reduce trauma, with landscape views and interstitial blinds to manage levels of stimulation 
  • a supportive admission experience for patients, including a low-stimulus admission zone and large de-escalation lounge with access to an outdoor space.


The recovery-oriented facility was delivered in partnership with Forensicare, MAAP Architects/DesignInc and Kane Constructions.  

“The SPICU at Thomas Embling Hospital is changing the way we provide mental healthcare for those within the criminal justice system.  

With one in three prisoners assessed as having mental health treatment needs, I am incredibly proud of our role in designing and delivering such an exemplary piece of social infrastructure for Victoria.” 
Rob Fiske, CEO of VHHSBA 

“When you’re receiving mental health treatment, the environment you receive that treatment in matters. That’s why it was so important for the unit to not only provide high-quality mental healthcare, but look and feel therapeutic and calming, too. 

“We believe the SPICU’s design has the potential to inform mental healthcare services around the globe. I am very proud of everyone who has been part of this important project.”  
Dr Margaret Grigg, CEO of Forensicare  

The annual awards recognise professional excellence in the design of healthcare environments across the globe.

The judging panel included international researchers, practitioners and policy advisors. The award was presented virtually on 18 September 2020.  

This is VHHSBA’s second consecutive win at the European Healthcare Design Awards. The Orygen and Orygen Youth Health (OHY) Poplar Road precinct redevelopment won the Mental Health Design award in 2019. Read more about the Orygen and OYH Poplar Road precinct redevelopment via our dedicated project page.  

About the Thomas Embling Hospital 

Thomas Embling Hospital is the leading specialist provider of secure forensic mental health services in Victoria. It is operated by Forensicare.  

The facility provides advanced clinical treatment for patients within the criminal justice system. 

A $23.48 million expansion of the facility was completed in July 2019 and included: 

  • an eight-bed Secure Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (SPICU)
  • ten additional beds across existing wards  
  • two beds in the specialised women’s unit.


Learn more about the Thomas Embling Hospital expansion via our dedicated project page.

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Last updated: 01 October 2020