Yeovil dementia garden rated ‘outstanding’ by Royal Horticultural Society
Being in hospital away from their own comforts is difficult for most people, but for those with dementia, it can be particularly distressing.
Back in 2015 our dementia and delirium team was awarded funding by the National Lottery to develop a safe and enclosed garden for patients to visit off the ward, but still connected to Yeovil hospital.
Ever since then, the team has worked closely with senior gardener Adrian Goldring to maintain the green space, and their hard work has recently been recognised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the UK’s leading gardening charity, which rated it as ‘Level 5 – Outstanding’ – a truly amazing success!
Kirsty Withers, a specialist matron and head of our dementia and delirium service, says recognition by the RHS means so much for everyone at the hospital and shows how we’re doing that little bit extra to help care for patients with dementia.
“We’re very proud that our garden has been recognised by the RHS in this way for the third year running, she said. “The judges always say they’re looking for that originality and I think our garden is unique in so many ways.
“It’s unprecedented for a hospital to win it three years in a row, and just for us to be recognised at this local level is really important for the town too.
“I think the garden is so important for all our patients, particularly those with dementia, to have access to the outside world.
“With the different seasons, temperatures, fresh air and horticulture, it’s a small way of helping our patients to get back in touch with nature again.”
Eight years ago our dementia and delirium team and arts team worked in partnership with the former district council, whose landscaping team helped with both the design and sourcing of the plants.
A great deal of fundraising took place and an amazing band of volunteers came to help with the task of planting all the lovely flowers and greenery.
It’s not just the summer that our garden blooms either, as in winter, there’s a selection of interesting sculptural pieces, such as mosaics, and even some metal flowers – if you're at the hospital, why not pop down to take a look when you have a spare five minutes?
Kirsty adds: “The garden has a lovely seating area and a really nice canopy, which provides shade in the summer, as well as cover during the rainy seasons – very much needed if this month is anything to go by!
“We use it for tea parties, and of course we decorate it over festive periods – we’ve been busy decorating the garden’s Christmas tree over the last week or so.
“Our team also uses the garden to take patients who’ve become agitated or confused on the ward, giving them that much needed space to calm down in a quiet and tranquil environment.
“It’s also well used by colleagues as it’s directly off the Queensway Day Centre and discharge lounge, so it’s a peaceful space, with a nice view too.”
Hospital gardener Adrian says he's over the moon with the news. “This year is unprecedented as we’ve done something nobody else has ever – winning the award three years in a row,” he says.
“It was a real pleasure to take the team of judges around the garden and it gave me a real sense of pride, both personally, and as part of our wider team.
“It’s a real collective effort, and we’re always on the look out for volunteers to help to maintain the garden. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact Kirsty on Kirsty.Withers@SomersetFT.nhs.uk.”