CHI at Tallaght is one of two Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centres which are part of the new children’s hospital project.

The project has expanded and improved the existing Outpatient Department, as well as providing additional services of: Child Sexual Assault Unit (CSAU), Urgent Care, Fracture Clinic, Physiotherapy and Diagnostics.

By integrating these multiple services into one comprehensive facility, the Children’s Hospital Satellite Unit at Tallaght provides a child-friendly healing environment in one place which will reduce pressure on central A&E services.

Design Approach

Full accessibility has been a key element of the design, and the centre will work in coordination with the Connolly CHI and the new Central Children’s Hospital, once completed.

The design was developed with the end users in mind, with interior finishes at a lower level to provide a more relatable environment for children. In addition, positive distractions have been incorporated through artwork, wayfinding, and branding, to occupy children’s minds with alternatives to the potentially traumatic experience of being within an unfamiliar healthcare facility.

Construction work on the 4,600m2 Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centre at CHI Tallaght was completed in September 2021, and opened for services in November 2021 after an eight week period of operational commissioning and equipping.

Alongside CHI at Connolly which opened in Blanchardstown in July 2019, the new centre has been developed to feed into Children Health Ireland’s (CHI) strategic vision on the yet to be completed New Children’s Hospital at St James’ Hospital, central Dublin.

The centre is positioned to provide urgent care requirements for children outside of the central A&E, thus reducing the current pressure. The new Children’s Centre will provide a wide range of services that include local diagnostics and urgent care excluding major trauma within one facility.

The development will both improve the existing aging hospital infrastructure and facilitate the overall masterplan for the estate, allowing for future expansion plans. Existing underused space has been extended, and the ground floor has been refurbished to create a fit-for-purpose space which was otherwise largely redundant. The scheme has also included the relocation of the onsite creche and staff facilities into a new) modular building, to provide better adjacencies to facilities.

The project has benefitted from a holistic design approach, considering the wider context of not only the immediate estate but also the wider healthcare service. Site opportunities were thoroughly reviewed to ensure optimal positioning of a facility that would improve footfall and traffic flow throughout the estate. Given the delicate nature of the services, a thoughtful approach was taken to the proposed location as well as the operational considerations. The Child Sexual Assault Unit (CSAU) is located on the top floor to increase privacy of the users, and the facility itself has been designed to minimise any further trauma, with safe activity spaces, associated courtyards and material use to reduce noise incorporated to increase comfort.

The Centre is intended to encourage local use and engagement, and therefore the services included are reflective of the community’s needs. Building on existing service user groups and stakeholder engagement sessions, for both the clinical team and community, workshops were held through the early design process

The development was designed with optimization of the site in mind. As such, refurbishment of the existing Urgent Care Centre was undertaken, to bring it inline with current and future needs. The introduction of additional services required careful consideration of orientation, department locations and window shapes to optimize the estate in terms of both operation and sustainability.

By using early modelling, the balance of constraints of a tight existing site and minimization of heat gains and energy use was achieved. Window shape, depth of reveal and relationship to orientation were all taken into consideration to minimise overheating and therefore reduce cooling load. Constraints of the space available required careful design within the build to maximise room use and efficiently use the space available. Both the final building layout and construction stage phasing had to take into consideration the tightness of the available site while maintaining uninterrupted operation of a live hospital site. The preferred location had to be carefully assessed to balance the best operation location with minimised disruption.

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