Dementia garden opens at Devon hospital

Therapeutic area will help patients relax and aid staff with assessments

A new therapeutic garden has opened at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, designed especially for patients suffering from dementia and other cognitive impairments.

The Devon Garden, as it will be known, was the work of local gardener and TV presenter, Toby Buckland, and provides a space where patients can relax and enjoy the outdoors while enabling clinical staff to undertake mobility and cognitive assessments.

The area includes features aimed at prompting discussion and recollection, including a telephone box that contains various scents together with a sound system playing music evocative of patients’ young adult years. Patients with dementia can often recall the past far better than the present and so the memory prompts in the garden will enable staff to engage with them in a more-effective way.

The garden is one of 116 projects to have been awarded funding from the Department of Health through the Dementia Challenge, which aims to improve the environment of care for people with dementia.

It has also been selected by the Department of Health as one of just 15 NHS schemes to be used as a case study to inform future policy and strategy.

The project received £141,000 from the Department of Health and a further £30,000 from the hospital’s own General Charitable Fund.

James Brent, chairman of the hospital trust, said: “It is vitally important to us that we explore new and innovative ways of caring for people with dementia.

“The Devon Garden will be just one of the tools helping us to meet the challenge currently faced by the NHS and will ensure that we are providing the highest-quality care for patients and their relatives.”

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