The results of the 2017 Practice Design Awards, organised by the British Veterinary Hospitals Association with Veterinary Practice, were announced on 1st December. Martin Smith, president of the BVHA, presented the awards at a ceremony attended by the president of the Royal College, Professor Stephen May, and president of the BSAVA, John Chitty. Other guests included the founder and first president of the BVHA, John Tandy, and guest speaker Professor John Cooper.
The BVHA and Veterinary Practice thank the many practices that entered the awards for their time and effort. The next competition will take place in 2019.
Entries from across the UK
The number of entries received was amongst the highest since the competition launched in 1995, with representation from across the UK. All the entries had outstanding features with a substantial number of highly imaginative and colourful premises; the increase in the number of ‘green’ features incorporated – from solar panels to infra-red heaters and LED lighting – was particularly notable.
Many of the front-of house areas were eye-catching, with one deemed worthy of one of the President’s Awards, while the judges found highly practical and efficient layouts a feature of most of the entries. Such was the high standard this year that the judges decided on a second President’s Award, this one for the outstanding working environment provided by one of the referral practices.
What the judges looked for
- Outstanding, practical design, demonstrating flair and innovation
- Clever and efficient use of space, with good flow of traffic, and first-class facilities for both clients and staff
- Excellent value for money
- Outstanding features deserving of special notice
In particular, the judges looked for “wow” factors in each practice – which all the winners, and many of the other entries, had in abundance.
The judges, however, have instructions to be both picky and pernickety in examining the various practices and they deduct marks for “faults” that many would consider very minor in the overall scheme of things.
All entries received were examined by a panel of judges representing the British Veterinary Hospitals Association and Veterinary Practice to determine three finalists in each category. The high standard of entries made this a lengthy process.
The finalists in each category were then visited by a team armed with judging forms, who came up with a winner in each of the three categories and then decided on the best overall. They were also on the look-out for particular features worthy of a President’s Award, deciding after much discussion to present two.
The prizes and sponsors
Overall winner and top conversion
THE London Cat Clinic, winner of the conversion category and overall winner of the 2017 Practice Design Awards, is the brainchild of Jeremy Campbell, who has RCVS advanced practitioner status.
Having worked in various places he decided to go it alone and found a suitable location in south-east London and set about converting the ground floor of a block of flats into his dream cat-only clinic.
Aiming to develop “a light and calm space in what is a potentially stressful environment for clients and colleagues”.
The consultation rooms have many eye-catching features, including the “cat cubby”, consisting of three staggered and “perchable” steps which lead up to a cat-sized cut-out in the wall. “Our patients are free to roam around and take some control of the situation,” says Jeremy.
Another feature of which the clinic is proud is the “I See You” window into the isolation ward from the staff room. This, says Jeremy, has been the biggest hit with our staff “as there is no need to disturb our most unwell patients or emergency cases. The provision of integrated piped oxygen into the cages means we can keep stress to a minimum.”
The award judges found it difficult to find fault with any aspect of the design and layout of this 2,605 square foot clinic. With professional and other fees included, it cost close to £815,000 to construct and decorate.
The completed clinic was opened in June 2017 and was asked to be a “show practice” for the international sponsors of the Cat Friendly Clinic programme.
The judges thought, “The facilities and build quality are excellent and it’s a great environment for the staff, patients and clients.”
Top of the new builds
Claire Whitehead had clear aims in mind when she set out to build a camelid-specific facility for the clinical evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of patients, incorporating a training centre for the camelid industry and associated professionals within Europe.
Claire, an RCVS recognised specialist in camelid health, took the opportunity to establish Camelid Veterinary Services in May 2011 and completed her practice premises in rural Berkshire in December 2015. The 2,900 square foot timber-frame building is on a 68,000 square foot site and features three indoor stalls and four outdoor pens. The total cost was a little under £750,000.
The spacious, high-ceilinged, open-plan reception-teaching area has the feel of a traditional barn. The building also has a reflective membrane which reflects heat back inside and a ventilation system to regulate air quality.
As animals in fleece require lower temperatures than a typical working environment for staff, the building is designed to have a different temperature at the clinical end to the reception-teaching-office end.
Judges commented on the “exceptional build quality” of the premises, its sympathy with the environment, the top-class biosecurity measures, exceptional attention to being energy efficient and the delightful appearance fitting perfectly into the surrounding countryside.
The winning refurbishment
Hungerford Vets wanted to “smarten a tired 20-year-old purpose-built surgery”, concentrating on the parking, reception, waiting and consult areas to, in the words of practice director Jonathan Green, “improve the initial design and create a finish unique to the practice and provide a much-improved client experience”.
Outside, there are additional parking spaces; a secure lawn area for puppy-parties; a bereavement garden; and a specialised ramp for aiding elderly and arthritic dogs.
Inside, there is a well-laid out waiting and reception area; an additional consulting room; a large pharmacy; a kitchen for staff; and laundry facilities.
All refurbishments are both attractive and functional, including a water pump house near the entrance in the appearance of a colourful kennel; armed-seating for less able or older clientele; and commissioned dog and cat sculptures, from the Stockbridge Gallery (dogsinart.com) depict the separate waiting areas.
This is a brilliant design, said the judges, with meticulous attention to detail and a number of delightful touches to make it a very welcoming and accessible practice, attractive for both staff and clients.
The President’s Awards
Such was the outstanding nature of the entries that the judges decided to give two President’s Awards: First to the Pets’n’Vets Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital in Glasgow for its outstanding front-of-house design and facilities; Second to Lumbry Park Veterinary Specialists in Alton, Hants., for designing an outstanding working environment.
The design goals of the Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital included creating “a warm, fun and friendly meeting place for pet owners of all ages”. The practice has clearly achieved this in the spacious and colourful waiting area, with cat, dog, small animal/mixed waiting and learning zones and a “junior vet surgery” for children.
A large consulting room doubles as a teaching room for clients, has a window looking into the children’s area and the imaginative use of curves and colours throughout has created a highly attractive front-of-house area – all, according to the judges, “particularly impressive”.
Lumbry Park Veterinary Referrals is owned by CVS and one of their aims was to create a hospital in which a clinician would want to work.
This aim has been achieved by having the practice well-lit and ventilated; comfortable rooms adjacent to the consulting rooms for clients whilst their pets are undergoing treatment; spacious consulting rooms; and a meeting room.
Another aim was “to create an atmosphere allowing for easy, spontaneous conversations”, something clearly noted by the judges, who commented on the considerable thought given to staff facilities, the attention to detail and excellent layout of the surgical areas.
The roll of honour
The London Cat Clinic
82-86 Spa Road, Bermondsey, London SE16 3QT
Category 1 – New build
Camelid Veterinary Services
The Old Barracks, Lady Grove, Goring Heath, Reading RG8 7RU
Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology and Soft Tissue
70 Priestley Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7AJ.
Category 2 – Conversion
The London Cat Clinic
Lumbry Park Veterinary Specialists
Lumbry Park, Selborne Road, Alton, Hampshire GU34 3HL
Category 3 – Refurbishment
The Veterinary Hospital, 4 Bath Road, Hungerford RG17 0HE
The George Veterinary Group Hospital
18-20 High Street, Malmesbury SN16 9AU
The Pets’n’Vets Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital
for outstanding front-of-house design, appearance and facilities
Lumbry Park Veterinary Specialists
for design of an outstanding working environment