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Laminates vs Rotational Mold in Mental Health

-Every time we fly in an airplane, we are reminded that there is a life vest beneath our chair and instructed on how to use it.  How often have you had to use it?

-It is also the law that we wear our seatbelts every time we get into our cars.  How many accidents have you had this year?

Preventative safety measures are part of our daily lives, regardless of the risks being low.  Maybe you have never been in a car or plane accident before, but each time we get into one of these modes of transport, we take a risk, mitigated with preventative measures for potential injury or death.  Why should we take any different approach to mental health settings?

Mental Health violence or aggression is a real risk factor that the professionals in this field face daily. Although the percentage of violent or aggressive mental health patients is relatively small, the risk of a car accident on your way to work is also low, yet you wear your seatbelt.  The physical environment of mental health and addiction spaces must have safety measures to prevent staff and patient injury,  planning for the worst-case scenario while making it palatable for the rest of the population.  That is why Roto-Mold has taken off and become the preference in these types of facilities.

Roto-mold (Rotationally Molded) is a production method of building things using plastic resins into a one-piece product that doesn't require fasteners or bracing for strength.  The rotation during the molding process means the structure is uniform in thickness and construction, making it a super durable product.  In terms of mental health furniture, this means you have eliminated risky fasteners, sharp joints, removable parts, ligature risks and much more.

Additionally,  the resins are selected for the healthcare industry, making the surfaces of the products super easy to clean!

Laminate furniture provides a warm and inviting appearance, often used before the increased use of roto-mold furniture.  Laminates are simply wood core products with a laminated plastic or vinyl coating to seal in the wood core and provide a durable external surface.  The laminates come in various thicknesses that directly relate to the durability of the product.  All raw materials of laminate come in sheets, meaning that the products made from them will be cut and assembled, requiring fasteners of some sort.  Tamper-resistant fasteners are typically used to hold laminates together, and the products are designed to prevent damage or abuse.  Due to furniture having many parts to assemble, it has a higher chance of being damaged or abused.

So, which is better?

That depends on the potential risks in your facility.  When there is a risk for mental health violence, plan for the worst and hope for the best!  Roto-mold will always out-perform and stand the test of time, presenting a lower risk to staff and patients alike.

If your risk level is low and you want to add the warmth that laminates bring, many products are thoughtfully designed with the safety measures incorporated in the design. Still, they will never be as robust as the roto-mold alternative.

When a broken piece of furniture becomes a weapon for self-harm or violence against others, there is no limit to the ingenuity of some patients.      A violent outburst happens without warning, leaving nurses with permanent injuries.  It should be a priority to make your spaces as safe as possible in every area where mental health or any other violent outburst is possible.  Like any other type of accident, it happens in a flash!