Designing Safe Spaces for Behavioral Health Patients

Designing safe spaces for behavioral health patients can be challenging as there is a need to balance aesthetics and functionality. You want to create an environment that supports patient autonomy, well-being and recovery while minimizing unwanted behaviors, especially self-harm.

Studies show that mental health facilities using familiar materials found in homes can improve patient comfort and support treatment. Home-like conditions also enhance patient satisfaction, leading to reduced rates of absconding or escape before treatment is completed.

Creating a home-like environment that mimics residential spaces can be done by choosing furniture, fixtures and layouts that are warm and welcoming and make patients feel comfortable, whether alone or in a group. Instead of institutional, prison-like elements, residential materials like brass and chrome are recommended.

Safe Space for Behavioral Health Patients: Bathroom Safety & Aesthetics

Traditionally, behavioral health facilities tended to emphasize safety while ignoring aesthetics and design. Safety is still a top consideration for today’s designers, but the trend is towards flexible, rich and complex residential spaces with access to outdoor areas.

When it comes to bathrooms, safety issues can be addressed with ligature-resistant fixtures, anti-slip surfaces, ergonomic design with universal access, and fixtures that comply with standards like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Ligature-resistant fixtures

These are fixtures and design elements that have zero attachment points for cords that can be used for hanging or asphyxiation. Plumbing, pipes and valves must be concealed whenever possible. Exposed fixtures must be covered or re-installed flush with the wall to prevent gaps for hiding contraband or creating a ligature point.

Anti-slip surfaces

Even without other risks, bathrooms can be dangerous places due to slippery floors and walls. Water should be confined in the shower area, lavatory, and toilet to prevent drips, splashes and flooding. Anti-slip shower pans and materials that look beautiful and home-like are available from many manufacturers.

Solid surface materials

Unlike plastic and vitreous china, solid surface material is ligature-resistant and tamper proof. This means that patients can’t break the mirror, toilet or lavatory and use the sharp pieces for weapons.

ADA compliant

ADA-compliant fixtures ensure that bathrooms are accessible to as many patients as possible. ADA fixtures also rate highly on operability and ease of use. Patients should be able to control the water temperature and flow, for example, with only one hand and without using too much pressure.

Flexible design

Behavioral health facilities often have spaces for low, medium and high-risk patients. It’s important to choose the right fixture for the right space to ensure optimal safety. Heavy-duty, vandal-resistant and ligature-resistant fixtures are best for medium-to-high-risk bathrooms. For common areas and universal patient rooms, ligature-resistant fixtures are suitable.


It’s possible to create safe spaces for behavioral health patients that do not look like prison cells. Manufacturers like AquaDesign offer durable, ligature-resistant fixtures that are home-like at the same time. Designers can avoid the institutional look by choosing familiar materials and finishes, providing enough storage and counter space, and providing comfortable lighting that is similar to residential lighting levels.

How AquaDesign Can Help You Create Safe Spaces for Behavioral Health Patients

AquaDesign is a leading manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures, with a unique range of products designed exclusively for mental health facilities and rehabilitation centers. We strive to provide the most effective and failsafe ligature-resistant solutions that meet the needs of any behavioral healthcare facility.

Designing safe spaces for behavioral health patients has never been easier, thanks to AquaDesign products that incorporate non-institutional and patient-centered elements. Our design guide for bathrooms is based on evidence and best practices to ensure optimal safety for patients, staff and caregivers.

Low- to Medium-Risk Spaces

The shower head, shower valve, lavatory, toilet, toilet roll holder, and mirror are all ligature-resistant and made with solid surface materials. The touch-button lavatory is antimicrobial and easy to operate. The shower pan is ADA-compliant and antimicrobial.

Medium to High-Risk Spaces

All products are heavy duty and ligature-resistant with solid surface construction. The shower pan is antimicrobial and ADA compliant, while the hand-held shower comes with a detachable adaptor for safety.

Electronically-Managed Spaces

For electronically managed rooms, our products allow healthcare providers to manage the use of power, water and lighting from a separate location. The electronic controller features time flow, hygiene purge cycles, time slots and lock out. Units can be networked or used locally.

Universal Healthcare Suite

AquaDesign products for universal healthcare suites are designed for multiple types of patients. The layout and fixtures improve patient flow and safety and allow staff to spend more time with the patients. All products are ligature resistant and made from solid surface material.


For remodels and retrofits of existing bathrooms, AquaDesign offers ligature-resistant products made from solid surface material. Toilets feature integral seats, and lavatories can be equipped with touch button outlets and ligature-resistant skirts.

To learn more contact us today!