The Critical Piece of the Puzzle

Following on from our first part of our blog series, we discussed the various challenges in Mental Health Facility Design.
The spotlight is now on the critical piece of the puzzle, bathroom design in a mental health facility.
It has been identified that the bathroom is an area that presents a suicide risk, as a private area with a number of ligature attachment points.
Therefore, the importance of 'anti-ligature' design is now more prominent than ever.

Exploring further physical safety requirements as explained in the Australasian Health Facility Guidelines, an excerpt below[1]:

"Physical Safety Requirements

Anti-ligature design

To reduce risks and minimise harm, all fittings and fixtures used in consumer areas of the building should be:

  • of a type specifically manufactured and marketed as 'anti-ligature'; and
  • installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

    Anti-ligature fittings and fixtures include a range of items including but not limited to:
  • window and door hardware,
  • hinges,
  • hooks,
  • plumbing and bathroom fixtures."

"In some circumstances, the item may rely on a load release system where the item gives way when its maximum load bearing capacity (typically 15kgs) is exceeded (e.g. curtain rail).
Other anti-ligature items are fixed but designed in such a way as to prevent a ligature being attached to them. The project team and the health service must satisfy themselves that as well as
meeting the specific performance specification, load release items do not become a hazard (e.g. a heavy magnetised curtain rail with a breaking strain of 15kgs is capable of being used as a weapon).

Additional attention to detail is required in areas within a mental health inpatient unit that are not able to be constantly supervised by staff,
(e.g. consumer bedrooms and ensuites). The design and construction of these spaces should minimise and wherever possible, eliminate risk.
Many anti-ligature fittings and fixtures will be selected to provide a flush finish and tamper-proof installation as a specific manufactured and marketed product is not available (e.g. light fittings)."[2]



Extra care should be taken when designing a bathroom for a mental health facility, with emphasis placed on minimising the risk of ligature attachment. 


Want to know more?

Part 3 - "Breaking New Ground"                                  Did you miss Part 1? "An Overview of Mental Health Facility Design"                                                                        



[1] “Australasian Health Facility Guidelines – Part B Health Facility Briefing and Planning,” Australasian Health Infrastructure Alliance,, p.16, (March, 2016).

[2] Ibid.