​Al Maha Center for Children and Young People


Growing interest in evidence based design of the hospital setting has driven research emphasizing the importance of the relationship between the environments in which healthcare is provided, and the health and wellbeing of patients and their families who seek care within them. Children with special medical needs tend to be isolated due to their reliance on medical technology, nursing support or specialized clinical programs often in sterile and homogenous surroundings associated with the clinical environment.

In December 2013, an assessment by Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, recognized that the existing facilities provided at HMC for children with complex and long-term healthcare needs were inadequate to provide best practices in clinical care or patient safety. Following this, a decision was made by David Highton as Chair of the Clinical Services Reconfiguration Program, to support the establishment of a dedicated facility to provide services for these patients. 

Over the course of two weeks, a design charrette was organized by the Office of Corporate Child Health Planning involving representatives from the Clinical Interprofessional Long Term Complex Care Working Group, Hyder Consulting, HDR Incorporated and Holland Bloorview. Guided by the vision “to create internationally recognized services for Children with Complex and Long-Term Health Care Needs, which demonstrate evidence-based practice, an integrated service model and a family-centered approach”, the team produced an initial design for a purpose-built child development and rehabilitation center. This center would be the first of its kind in the region, a one-stop facility providing a range of services for a highly vulnerable group of children (i.e. Inpatient, Outpatient, Day Care, Respite Care, Palliative Care and Outreach Pediatric Home Care Services).

The new Al Maha Center for Children and Young People will be located in a brand new facility within the grounds of Al Wakra Hospital. The center will provide co-location of services incorporating some of the stimulating qualities of home, school and the neighborhood in a family centered environment where children can learn from the world around them.   

To conclude the workshop, the architectural team from HDR Inc presented the initial design of the facility through a visual three-dimensional model ‘fly-through’. The Working Group will now evaluate the proposed design, feeding back any changes before the second workshop to be held in December.