Patients have been involved in helping develop the garden which is having a positive impact on patients and carers alike.
Deborah Etheridge, Wellbeing Practitioner on Ruskin Unit explains “We wanted to make the ward garden environment more accessible for the patients, to involve them in the revamp, by supporting them, going into the local community to purchase paints and plants. The garden needed to be more vibrant and more dementia friendly, so bright coloured paints were used and black borders for the raised beds to enable the patients to see the plants and benches easier and make use of them.
All the furniture in the garden has been repainted, including the raised flower beds, the benches in both communal gardens and the tables which staff and patients helped with. Vegetables and flowers have been planted, which gives the patients a sense of ownership and responsibility as they can grow their own vegetables, beans, courgettes, lettuce.
Gardening is beneficial to patients and staff alike, it enables them to get out into the fresh air and get some vitamin D as well. It is a physical activity and so encourages movement and exercise with a sense of purpose to the task. Doing the garden has been a communal activity, everyone has been involved and has improved the wellbeing of the patients as they feel they are part of the community on the ward and they have contributed to the shared space, it has been beneficial for each patient to engage socially, this may be just observing or it may be taking a lead in deciding where plants go.
Ruskin Unit recently held a carer’s social afternoon in the garden to support carers as well as patients, this was a very positive time for all who came. The carers commented on how lovely the garden was looking and the change that they had seen since we had started the process. They also said how positive it was for their loved ones to be out working on the garden and getting involved, one lady in particular became quite emotional seeing her husband doing the things he always used to do and enjoy”.