The now completed garden will bring an ‘at home’ experience for those living with dementia who require acute hospital care. The £70,000 garden campaign was launched two years ago and its completion has been made possible by generous donations from our community, fundraising by hospital stafff and the support, in multiple ways, from corporate and third sector supporters Sellafield Ltd, CoOp Stores, Assura, Cheshire Youth Services and PQ Silicas Corporation.
Incoming Mayor of Warrington Cllr Wendy Johnson officially open the Forget Me Not Garden on Thursday 23 May.
The new garden follows in the design of The Forget Me Not unit, which was designed to lead the way in dementia care, and has created a relaxed environment to minimise patient distress which can often be caused by entering a new, strange environment. Consideration was given to minimising the ‘clinical’ feel of the unit, for example the use of specialist lighting designed to help patients’ orient themselves between night and day and supports better sleep patterns; coloured flooring and walls enable way-finding and navigation, and pictogram signage helps patients to navigate and reduce confusion. These elements combined provide the most supportive environment for psychological wellbeing and create a very different healthcare environment.
The garden is an extension of the unit and supports patient relaxation and allows them to potter or just sit and enjoy. It incorporates many decorative garden items such as a red traditional telephone box and a band stand designed to act as memory prompts. The newly completed garden will allow for increased opportunities for music and art-based therapies to support patient wellbeing and group activities. Patients have increased opportunities for independent walking, with looped garden pathways and grouped seating areas for interaction with visitors and other patients. The sheltered grouped seating areas have been chosen rather than individual benches to facilitate conversation and to help patients to stay connected. Throughout the garden there are raised planters large bushes and plenty of colour and wall art. The original part of the outdoor area has had a makeover and opens up into a seated area, which provides our patients with a familiar place to sit and relax, smells and sounds will enhance and stimulate patients experience as well as help families and staff engage in conversations with patients.
Kimberley Salmon-Jamieson, Chief Nurse said: “To see the garden fully completed is a dream come true for our patients living with dementia and our staff. “The garden provides a safe haven for patients and their families and carers. With a variety of bright and colourful foliage and plants, this area provides a space for families to spend quality time together, reminiscing and just enjoying some ‘home from home’ time together. “It is hard to put into words how much this garden means to us and simply saying ‘Thank you’ does not begin to convey the gratitude we feel to our corporate supporters for their time, materials and financial support; to our community for digging deep to donate to the fund and to our staff who have done everything from cycling to Paris to abseiling off buildings to raise the money - it would not have been possible without any of them.”
Pauline Deans, Community Liaison Officer at Sellafield Ltd, explained: “We have a long history of supporting our local communities and having met with Helen Higginson from Warrington and Halton Hospitals’ Charity, we wanted to do something to support this project. “The challenge benefited the dementia ward by providing them with a calm, colourful and safe outdoor area, helping to create a piece of normality and reduce anxiety. We supported the project over two challenge days, the first involving volunteers from across our Warrington offices and the second involving our new graduates. This helped to develop leadership, team working and observation skills and put into practice the principles of social responsibility.”