By opening a specially designed garden space Yeovil Hospital is hoping to provide a valuable quiet space where dementia patients may be able to regain a sense of wellbeing away from the hussle and bussle of the busy wards.
Janine Valentine, Nurse Consultant for dementia at the hospital, explains more...
"Imagine an elderly man with dementia being admitted to hospital and being able to spend time in a garden with the sun shining, the smell of lavender, the clink of china tea cups and the gentle buzz of conversation with a musician playing some old tunes on his saxophone. This man has always loved listening to jazz and pottering about in his garden. There are raised beds and a trowel to hand and some runner bean seeds that need planting.
Without the garden, this man might be pacing the ward, where there is a call bell buzzing, and the telephone ringing. He would be side-stepping doctors as they look at an x-ray on a computer screen while a patient is returning from theatre. Maybe his daughter has come to visit and she would love to chat to him but he is so restless and there is so much hustle and bustle and there is nowhere for them to go. This garden will not cure all of this gentleman’s problems but its therapeutic benefits will be enormous to him and so many people.
Yeovil Hospital has further demonstrated its commitment to helping improve life for older patients last month with the official opening of an innovative new dementia-friendly garden. It was funded by the National Lottery People’s Millions, and features a safe and stimulating environment with contemporary planters overflowing with seasonal plants, welcoming seating, and a large awning to ensure the space can be used throughout the year.
We know that many older people in hospital feel lonely and isolated, and some may be in hospital for many weeks. Being outside can improve people’s sense of wellbeing and mood, as well as providing physical exercise and helping to maintain normal sleeping patterns. Our garden provides a safe, therapeutic space that all patients, including those with dementia, can visit along with their friends and families. We plan to run gardening, craft and music activities in the garden involving the wider local community, to help people interact and socialise, as well as doing things which remind them of their life outside hospital. The garden is enclosed and can be opened by any staff or volunteer ID badge, but clinical areas have a spare badge which can be lent out to relatives.
The garden has been specially designed to appeal to those with dementia. Contrasting surface colours create an accessible pathway around the garden, punctuated with a stone water feature, weathered benches and seating. Each raised bed and planter is filled with non-toxic plants and flowers that reflect the seasonal changes you might find in your own garden, helping patients connect with the gardening calendar. Colour, sound, texture and scent have been carefully considered in planting choices and details such as the mosaic herons and seagulls add interest and intrigue to this beautiful space."