Grosvenor Interiors have recently completed work on a SARC in Cardiff.

We spoke to Clinical Lead, Catrin Simpson, who explained that there have been big changes in forensic services due to the updated technical accreditation process so there is now more emphasis on making sure the environment meets forensic standards. It’s vital that any evidence gained must be attributed to the correct case, so there are very strict controls. Spaces need to be able to be forensically cleaned and control how people travel through the department. Because of this, they had to update the clinical environment.

The SARC unit also offers other services: they have a team of independent sexual violence advocates who offer ongoing support for clients through the criminal justice process, making the process as simple and easy as possible. They also offer appropriate counsellors. Their paediatric hub serves South, mid and West Wales, with follow up happening local to where the client lives.

The service took over space next to the old unit and work was completed in April on two new forensic suites, one focusing on adults and a separate dedicated area for children and young people. Previously, the forensic suites needed to be used by both adult and client users; however, the new forensic space has allowed these age groups to be separated. Renovating the older building brought with it lots of constraints and limitations e.g. the walls could not be moved. Whilst the new space was lovely and shiny, it was cold, echoey and very minimalist. With no cushions or artwork in frames allowed, staff needed to make the space more inviting for severely traumatised clients.

After approaching the Cardiff & Vale Health Charity team , they decided that vinyl wall art (Wall Glamour) would be a good way of creating visual interest in a way that wouldn’t interfere with the forensic environment so they put in a bid to engage Grosvenor Interiors to design and install appropriate wall imaging.

The imaging needed to be inclusive – gender neutral and suitable for all ages and ethnicities – and it was important that the environment did not have any images that might be either over stimulating or include any images that may trigger further trauma. Parents who were abused as children find it difficult seeing some children’s images so it was really important to find the right design. It needed to be suitable for all age groups, friendly and interesting but not too childish or cartoon focused. The new design we created for them using natural themes with leaves and trees ticks all those boxes.

There is also an increasing awareness of the secondary trauma caused for staff who work in these units. Having an environment that looks good and is also calming really helps them as well.

The Old Victorian hospital area now feels more like a community centre, a wellness hub. The idea is that it shouldn’t feel like a hospital, although it needs to have links to the areas required to meet the need of clients and staff.


BEFORE                                                                           AFTER












CPM Units

We also chatted to Rachel who runs the CPM Unit at Solihull in the Midlands. The unit is a bespoke unit for carrying out medical examinations for children who may have been harmed – it can be harm at home or school, anything under the category of child protection. All cases are referred from Social Care, then triaged by a medical professional who determines how quickly the child needs to be seen. Usually, they have to be seen as quickly as possible, together with a parent or responsible adult, to try and determine what happened – this may be a physical examination and/or a discussion with the child and often with the parent. Most have to be seen the same day as bruises and other injuries can change quickly if left. Because of the urgency, it’s important to have a dedicated area which can be accessed quickly and easily.

Before the unit was available, such cases were dealt with in clinics and there was no confidentiality, making it difficult. The location of such units is important because if they are in a general hospital or school, the clients may be seen by others, risking embarrassment or even intimidation.

The University Hospitals Birmingham Charity put in a bid to engage Grosvenor Interiors to design and install the wall imaging in the refurbished area which is designed to be a safe place for young people. The unit is completely confidential from their peers and people around them. It’s also a pleasant place for them to come to: the waiting area is a playroom – it has toys, books, computer games, TV, videos and users can play a DVD.

It has its own kitchen, so it’s possible to provide snacks and drinks for children and parents who are upset or angry or anxious about what will happen next. Staff need to build relationships quickly to get them to be honest and open so it’s important that the area is very private. Where a teenager and young child in the same family may need to be seen, there is now a separate quiet room to accommodate this.

Often it will be the first time that a child has told an adult that something is wrong.

After initial conversations, the scary bit is the medical examination. Staff have to measure height and weight and blood pressure and check their skin: this is quite intimate and physical and has to happen in a clinical area. It’s very important that this room is used purely for the examination and that the child is removed from this room afterwards. All conversations can take place in a separate room, somewhere more comfortable, so the child knows that the medical examination is completely finished.

It is difficult to build a relationship quickly with a child who is not very trusting of adults because of something that has happened to them in the past.

With Grosvenor’s help, the unit has now been made more homely and more child friendly. Even window blinds fit in with the artwork in the room.

Before that, it was very clinical with white walls and only partially covered windows, so children felt people were looking in. There was nothing to look at. Now it’s much easier to engage in conversation – one little girl who visited loved colours: she was able to point to the different coloured flowers, following the stripes and this made it feel more homely and not so scary for her.

Victoria Boulton, Lead Designer for Grosvenor Interiors explains “Rachel wanted to ensure that the area didn’t look clinical and would be a relaxing space as children tend to think of hospital as a negative place. Designing for such an area where children will feel so vulnerable and scared needs to be approached with a fine balance of sensitivity and compassion. I always try to soften the edges, calm feelings and gently distract the mind. In particular, I felt how grim the corridor looked: adding spots of colour and circular views of trees really lifted the feel and gave something to distract the mind on that particular daunting journey”.

The area above the examination couch is important as the children often don’t want to lie down. Using wall art (Wall Glamour) on the ceiling allows staff to use distraction techniques, having them look up at beautiful trees; you can engage them in conversation and ask “Can you see this, can you see the green and the blue?”

Staff have to be compassionate as children attend after one difficult experience but may have more in the future. It’s very important to get good engagement with them which makes it easier for them if they need to access the service again. Rachel believes that trying to provide this unique service would be really difficult if the CPM Unit wasn’t available.

Rachel believes strongly that the newly refurbished unit makes life easier. Children come in looking scared but the minute they see the Wii or the toys or something on the walls that is not a hospital, their attitude immediately changes. They are going through the same experience, but they physically relax. The unit also makes a difference for staff. Even when they are there preparing, cleaning or stocking up with no-one else around, it makes a real difference to them to be in an attractive setting.

Without the unit and its unique environment, it is hard to engage people, to have conversations and reassure them. Given the right surroundings, Rachel feels they can do a better job and make the very best of the situation for those children and young people coming through the system.

Grosvenor Interiors – Your “BETTER” Space




For more details, call Grosvenor Interiors on 01892 600400 or email us on