Men and women should not share sleeping accommodation, bedrooms or bed bays, or sanitary provision on mental health units. Effective gender separation can be provided in single sex wards or on mixed sex wards. Currently, 70 per cent. of sleeping accommodation in the mental health estate is in single rooms.
In January 2009, the Department announced a package of measures designed to help hospitals all but eliminate mixed-sex accommodation, the “Same-sex accommodation: your privacy, our responsibility” campaign. This includes:
a £100 million Privacy and Dignity Fund to support improvements and adjustments to hospital accommodation;
providing good practice information and guidance to trusts;
sending an improvement team to hospitals that need extra support; and
introducing rigorous and transparent performance measures.
Primary care trusts are required to work with local providers, including mental health trusts, to deliver substantial and meaningful reductions in the number of service users that report sharing sleeping or sanitary accommodation with members of the opposite sex and to increase the provision of women-only day space in mental health units.
Guidance on achieving effective gender separation on mental health units has been published in the Institute for Innovation and Improvements guide on mixed sex accommodation and in the mental health capital project commissioning guide “Laying the Foundations”.