A GARDEN project benefiting patients at a mental health hospital has been praised at a national awards event.
The successful project at Glencairn Ward at Midpark Hospital in Dumfries became a reality thanks to partnership working with staff and inmates at Dumfries Prison, and has now received a ‘Highly Commended’ award for Inpatient Care in the Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland Awards.
Staff Nurse Fay Jackson said: “Midpark Hospital provides inpatient care through 81 beds in six wards, and those people cared for in Glencairn Ward include adults and older adults who can present with a range of complex mental and physical health conditions.
“The hospital opened in 2012 in a really nice setting on Bankend Road in Dumfries, and while we found that people liked to spend time in the gardens we really wanted to make them a more appealing space for families and patients.
“We already knew the benefits of formulating person-centred activities and the positive outcomes it could have on alleviating stress and distress, improving quality of life and providing meaning and focus to the person’s day.
“And so as a consequence, and with the support of a number of enthusiastic patients and staff, the gardening project was born.”
Months of hard work got underway within Glencairn Ward, with strong support from charity The Friends of Midpark and HMP Dumfries.
Chairman Mr Ian Boddy and the Friends of Midpark committee very kindly agreed to support the garden project by providing the materials and paint. Meanwhile, help to assemble three sets of garden furniture came thanks to Dumfries Prison’s joinery department.
Assembled tables and chairs were painted in the dementia colour of ‘Forget Me Not’ blue, and Jim Callander from the prison ensured the specific requirements to allow wheelchair access, and use for all abilities was fully considered.
In total, two wards and one public space benefits from the garden furniture.
The project then extended following a family donation to allow the purchase of wind chimes, dementia friendly flowers and plants, sails and a shelter to support outdoor activities as well as bunting made from material donated by patients friends and families.
Staff say that in nearly every case the activities which have taken place in the garden has delivered an observable benefit to patients in terms of physical activity and social interaction.
Fay said: “We’ve seen that patients would help each other out, work in partnership and initiate conversation with each other. We also observed humour with friendly exchanges of banter.
“For some, it appeared to give a sense of self worth, achievement and responsibility, and we’ve found that family members wanted to contribute and appeared to find comfort in being able to do so.
“Opening up more doorways to the garden and providing a circular route for patients to walk has encouraged patients into an outdoor area and to become involved in physical activities.”
With the garden established, NHS volunteers have taken on a role providing support to patients, engaging them in conversation and helping to establish new networks of support within the community.
Speaking after the presentation of the award at the Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland Awards held at the Beardmore Conference centre Glasgow, Senior Charge Nurse Claire Gabriel said: “This is a fantastic achievement by Fay and the Glencairn team yet again at these awards, and builds on strong foundations of the teams commitment to ensuring first class dementia care is at the heart of everything we do.
“I am immensely proud of this team and very grateful to Jim and his team at the prison and The Friends of Midpark.”