Blog: Client of the Year SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

20 May 2020

sponsored by Willmott Dixon

Client of the Year SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (submitted by HazleMcCormackYoung LLP)

The Harmonia Village in Dover represents a new concept in care.  Based upon a social approach that encourages those living with dementia to lead as normal life as possible, it engages with a familiar environment and provides access to 24-hour care. The project, led by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) and Dementia Centre of Excellence - with support from HazleMcCormackYoung - saw the opportunity of using the redundant housing and site in Dover as a means of realising this new concept of care.

Having visited the famous Hogeweyk Dementia Village in the Netherlands in 2015, they developed their concept for care and applied for an EU grant to part-fund the project and were successful in securing Interreg 2 Seas EU Fund, covering 60% of the project costs. They then secured the remaining 40% from the Trust and other project partners. Design work commenced in March 2018, started on site in October 2018 and the handover was then in September 2019. The project remodels 12 redundant semi-detached houses to provide accommodation for 30 residents. A new hub building has communal facilities for the Harmonia Village residents, the local community and for volunteers, together with a six-bed guest house offering respite care.

Given the aim of maximising the benefits for the local community, it was important to the client that local companies were involved in the design and construction. The project is now live and will create new employment opportunities for the healthcare sector. Over 30 staff are already employed at the Harmonia Village, and this will increase as the residents take occupancy.

A key focus of the project is urban regeneration and so the Harmonia Village at Dover has been developed with the aim of maximising benefits for the local area and community. The housing on the site was redundant for several years and the project has brought it back to life while actively engaging socially with the surrounding residents. It is also aiming to de-stigmatise dementia and normalise the presence of people living with dementia in communities.

Brief: From the outset, the client had a clear consistent brief backed up with research and visits. The Trust developed a model which did not require a minimum 60+ bed care spaces (standard UK model) to be financially sustainable and set a budget of £2.6M for the construction costs. One of the drivers for the Trust was to get people with dementia out of hospital which is unsuitable and unsafe for them and into a more appropriate environment.  

Design: With the design team, the Trust established regular stakeholder consultation meetings and workshops, and formed an operational group. This was essential to test and inform the brief, gain knowledge from people’s experiences and requirements from the resident and carer perspective. A clear programme was given when decisions had to be made and a clear communication path was established to ensure the design team received relevant timely information.

Construction: During the appointment of the main contractor and the contract period, the Trust Estates Team alongside the project manager supported the project monitoring cost and programme, and importantly were able to give decisive decisions to avoid delays on site. An NEC 3 Contract was used to engender collaboration and teamwork in resolving issues as they arose.

In the case of contractors, the Trust established its own framework for smaller projects with the emphasis on local supply chains. The project was tendered using this framework and the successful contractor Jenner (Contractors) Ltd was appointed. The framework provides the ability for the Trust to review and benchmark cost and performance.  

The new hub building was designed using offsite manufactured SIPS panel system with pre-cast concrete floors and stairs by Innovare. This required input from their specialists at an early stage and the pre-cast floor was adopted to provide a simple solution to achieve the required acoustic performance between floors. They were appointed as part of the main contract but provided pre-contract design advice to the design team to inform planning submission and technical detailing.

Organisation and Communication: They established a model care group to disseminate best practice knowledge to the design team and managers. Attendance by clinical teams ensured the brief was robust. Regular team and site progress meetings were documented to clearly define actions and provide an audit trail of decision making.

Community Involvement: The Trust enabled a number of activities which included, World Café Event, Dementia Champion Meeting and a Planning Consultation Evening to keep neighbours and the community informed. The result had no planning objections which smoothed the path for approval.

The knowledge gained has been shared with project partners in this country and across Europe. As part of the 2 Seas Mers Zeeen project, it fulfils the aim to reduce demand on hospital beds, integrate people living with dementia into their local communities with facilities that cater for the progressive stages of the disease and increases the number of trained staff and carers


  • Unique model of care in the UK utilising design and technology to improve quality of life for carers and people living with dementia.
  • An exemplar project with the intention that the model of care and use of redundant housing stock could be rolled out across the country and Europe.
  • Innovative approach from an NHS Health Trust to secure funding and deliver a project which addresses a growing need of how society can look after people living with dementia and reduce pressures on hospital services.

About the Client of the Year Award: 

Construction clients have an important role to play in transforming the way the industry operates.  How projects come to market has a significant impact on the ability of the construction industry to provide innovative, whole life value-for-money solutions. Much waste in construction is driven through approach to risk across the supply chain and judges are looking for a construction client that has been actively involved in enabling the construction programme and developed strategies for encouraging and rewarding excellence. 

> Find out more about the other finalists here

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