Close relationship ensures satisfied customer in unique hospital project


A strong relationship with the customer helped ASSA ABLOY to meet the challenge of providing a complete tailored security solution for a state-of-the art mental health care unit in New Zealand.


Middlemore Hospital, operated by Counties Manukau Health, is one of the largest tertiary teaching hospitals in New Zealand. With around 4,700 staff, the hospital admits more than 91,000 in-patients and 354,000 day-patients annually.


When designing a new 76-bed facility for acute mental health, Middlemore Hospital took the opportunity to take patient care to a new level, moving away from an institutional environment to a calm home-like atmosphere to enhance people’s recovery.

From a security point of view this presented unique challenges – with a desire to let people move comfortably through communal areas, with a home-like feel, while also requiring high security where patients and staff needed to be secure and safe.


The solution, developed thanks to close collaboration between the customer and ASSA ABLOY, was found in a combination of zoned planning and flexible spaces, all activated by electronic locking hardware.

Bedrooms were the first area of focus and the hospital mocked up two full-scale suites with a complete entry door frame and assembly. Door and bathroom hardware pose the greatest risk to residents who may want to self-harm, so locks and handles needed to be flush, smooth, tamperproof and anti-ligature, while not looking heavily institutional. ASSA ABLOY supplied the customer with a range of hardware samples for testing on the one-and-a-half leaf configuration – a door solution that provides safe access in an emergency and improved privacy from the corridor.

Locking on each room is electronically managed with fob keys and wrist bands, so that only the resident and their support staff have access. Electronic locking with the high-security Protec 2 manual key override means staff can change settings according to the time of day and the security of the resident. This system also allows the use of a traditional high-security key in the case of a power outage or intentional damage to the electronic lock; with all locks linked to the security system and fire alarm.

Building zoning was also a core part of the brief for unobtrusive space management. As a person moves along their journey to recovery, their security access can be progressively opened up, allowing them to access more communal spaces. Staff can run the facility in different modes, including how wings are set up and connected. It’s very flexible, but not overly complicated, and one of the features the staff believe to be most useful.