Mandara Manor Wellness Centre was officially opened on 30th October last year by Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro. Mandara Manor is the third centre in the group of mental healthcare facilities that includes Highlands Halfway House and Borrowdale Halfway House – all run by a group of local doctors and healthcare specialists. The Chief Executive Officer of the Highlands Wellness Group is Dr Sacrifice Chirisa.
Mandara Manor Wellness Centre is a psychiatric and rehabilitation facility offering specialised care for people with alcohol and substance abuse difficulties as well as treatment for a range of mental health issues including depression and suicidal tendencies, stress, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Upon referral from a doctor or from family members, patients can be admitted and accommodated at the Centre for a minimum of 6 weeks up to a maximum of three months. Patients are admitted irrespective of race, gender or age. As well as residential patients the Centre also treats clients on an outpatient basis.
While they’re at the facility patients receive full board as well as a range of therapeutic treatments from a staff that includes specialist psychiatrists, psychologists and occupational therapists. They can also enjoy a range of indoor and outdoor activities including the use of the on-site gym with twice-weekly training sessions, a basketball court, massage therapy and beauty therapy, visits from a barber and hairstylist, as well as indoor board games, Netflix and DStv. The well-equipped gym is an obvious new build, although the architectural style takes its lead from the main building.
There’s a fully equipped modern kitchen with a gourmet chef in attendance to cater for particular dietary preferences or restrictions.
Patients who would previously have sought treatment outside the country can now be accommodated locally saving foreign currency and travel expenses. In addition, the three treatment centres have accepted clients from South Africa, Canada, the UK and the USA as our local facilities are of world-class standards.
The project, situated at 9 Tiptol Close, in the tranquil suburb of Mandara, was funded as a portfolio investment by the Zimbabwe Electricity Industry Pension Fund (ZEIPF). The ZEIP acquired the site in around 2013. It was a residential property with an older house existing on the stand that needed some renovations but was basically structurally sound and solidly built.
The renovations, extensions and newly built sections were designed by Ruswa Consulting (ERC Urban Design Consultants) with ERC, DM Jena Associates and ZEIPF acting as project managers and KW Construction as the main contractor. Work started on the project in December 2019 and was completed in October 2020 this year. ERC has maintained the traditional Zimbabwean home look and feel of the existing house while extending and updating it. The original tiled roof with a gentle pitch and small overhanging eaves has been extended seamlessly so it’s hard to tell which part is original and which part is new.
All the original ‘Crittall-style’ window frames have been replaced with aluminium frames so that they match the new sections and also give the house a more up to date look. ERC has added an impressive entrance façade that gives the structure an imposing, serious look – without being intimidating. The front has been clad with stone tiles and the windows sheltered behind steel louvre slats.
To the left of the façade, there are two blocky monoliths with black slate cladding and a concrete crossbeam that together form a gateway to the emergency admission space where a ramp leads up to the solid teak exterior door. To the right, there’s an outdoor patio and seating area with a very high roof of corrugated iron resting on concrete pillars. The roof also partly shelters access to the main reception area.
The interior layout has obviously been re-configured and some significant sections added. Generally, houses built at the time of the original structure would have been fairly dark inside with rooms leading off of long narrow passageways and a separate lounge and dining room. ERC has created large open plan ‘shared’ spaces for dining and relaxing filled with light, with pristine white tiled floors throughout and gentle pastel colours on the walls. The old fireplace, in what was presumably the original lounge, has been preserved to add a homely touch. Where there are passageways they’re wide and light rather than dark and narrow.
There are now 8 bedrooms – each with a private well-appointed bathroom en suite – so the facility can comfortably accommodate up to 11 resident clients at any one time. There are 4 bedrooms for men – 1 double and 3 single – 3 bedrooms for women – 1 shared and 2 private rooms – and an additional gender-neutral bedroom.
The newly fitted out contemporary kitchen is an extension as older houses tended to have small kitchens stuck away at the back of the house. The kitchen has granite countertops and wood finished cabinets as well as all the necessary modern appliances needed to conjure up gourmet meals for clients who can be a bit picky about food!
The interior décor has been carefully designed to be comfortable, up-market but still relaxing, with a minimum of clutter and fuss to distract clients. The big windows and white tiled floors could feel cold but the choice of teak furniture and seating upholstered in soft colours and natural fabrics warms the place up and makes it more welcoming. Unique artworks, specially commissioned from local painter Pearl Thompson, brighten up the walls and add interest. Vases of fresh-cut flowers, decorative bowls and candles complete the tasteful décor.
Even the décor in the bedrooms has been considered with each room having its own personality. There are comfortable beds, with teak headboards and side tables, and built-in wardrobes with a pale wood veneer finish. Even the bed linens, comforters, cushions and throws are spa-like quality to ensure as much relaxation and rest as possible.
The fairly simple gardens were designed and landscaped by Commonweal investments. There’s lots of manicured green lawn to give an open feel with touches of colour added at the front reception and the rose beds on the sides. The driveway has been brick paved and there’s ample parking for staff, consultants and visitors.
Mandara Manor is administered by Ms Gugulethu Vaki who oversees a staff complement of 23 people, including 24-hour nursing services, for a maximum of 11 clients, so everyone is assured of top quality personal attention at all times.
To contact Mandara Manor Wellness Centre
-text by Michael Nott
-photos by Mandara Manor, Structure & Design