John Howard Centre:

Optimum Group Services adopts an innovative approach to mechanical PPM and reactive works at a secure mental health unit

John Howard Centre:

Optimum Group Services to deliver planned preventative maintenance (PPM) and reactive works at John Howard Centre.


Optimum Group Services (Optimum) has been appointed to undertake full mechanical planned preventative maintenance (PPM) and reactive works at the John Howard Centre, a Category B secure mental health unit in East London. The John Howard Centre houses male and female clients mainly from referrals from the Home Office or Local Courts. The site comprises six buildings within a secure 5.2m perimeter fence. Given the sensitive and high-risk nature of this facility, Optimum is adopting an innovative approach to these works.

Within the agreed contract, Optimum will be responsible for mechanical, reactive and statutory maintenance and water hygiene management, delivered by a dedicated team of resident engineers. This service will be backed up by a mobile support team.
The John Howard Centre originally put this contract out for tender as a straightforward mobile service. However, as part of its innovation strategy, Optimum offered a resident engineer to complement the mobile service option. The benefits of this arrangement include:

  • All contracted engineers are adequately trained and experienced to work within this type of environment. For example, all engineers have received NHS approved breakaway training on site.
  • No requirement of a security escort for engineers.
  • Improvements to response times for reactive works.
  • Cost reduction for the NHS.

Optimum has implemented a full computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) system on site that is used to monitor all PPM and reactive works to ensure compliance and response times. In addition, Optimum provides a full 24hr managed helpdesk facility for the East London NHS Foundation Trust, with trained operators handling calls from all parts of the Trust and engaging the correct supplier or sub-contractor to attend the site where required.

In a similar environment, Optimum has also been appointed to replace the cooling system at Tower Hamlets Centre for Mental Health, another secure unit comprising 117 bedrooms, based within Mile End Hospital. In this £1.4m project, works were undertaken whilst the Tower Hamlets Centre for Mental Health was still occupied by patients. Medical staff at the Unit required constant access to seclusion rooms and access through security-controlled doors throughout the works. A process of evacuating individual wards and re-distributing patients around the Unit was employed with strict security measures in place. This phased approach meant that installation could take place in unoccupied wards without incurring Unit closures.

“Optimum adapts its FM approach to every contract and this is particularly the case in such high-risk units. We respect the need for continuity of service delivery for the medical staff and patients and endeavour to limit disruption wherever possible. We also place a strong emphasis on training for our engineers working in this type of environment in order to minimise potential threatening situations.” said Ben Chapman-Watts, NHS Account Manager of Optimum Group Services.

“We have been hugely impressed with the sensitivity and respect demonstrated by the Optimum engineers working on site,” said John Hill, Director of Estates at East London NHS Foundation Trust. “Working in a secure mental health unit can be a challenging environment even for trained NHS staff. By introducing a resident engineer, we feel confident that the FM work carried out by Optimum will follow our security policies without repeated briefings from us, saving our staff precious time to dedicate to patient care.”


About the John Howard Centre
The John Howard Centre is part of the East London NHS Foundation Trust. It is a hospital site designed to provide medium secure care for 118 patients. A combination of mental illness and risk issues means that patients cannot be safely moved to lower security until treatment programmes have been undertaken. Patients can access a wide range of both one-to-one and group treatments, allied to an active occupational programme. This site has two therapy and education areas including a sports hall and two multi-gyms as well as secure outside spaces. Security standards are aligned to those set by NHS London medium secure units. A focus on security has resulted in a very low rate of related incidents.

For additional information please visit: www.weareoptimum.com

Optimum Group Services

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Optimum Group Services

Optimum Group Services started out as a small air conditioning company in 1989. Approaching its 25th year of operations, Optimum now delivers full building services, focused primarily on hard...

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