Landscaping improvements planned at Scottish hospitals

Gardens will enhance health and wellbeing of hospital patients and visitors

Fresh shoots will soon be appearing in the grounds off Falkirk Community Hospital thanks to a donation from the WrVS.

Funding is being used to create new gardens for older people, one located in an inner courtyard area that can be accessed by patients in the four inpatient wards, and a separate landscaped garden in the area outside the day hospital.

Both will be accessible for inpatients and their families to ensure they are able spend time outdoors in pleasant surroundings. Careful attention will also be given to the materials used and the colours, textures and smells of plants within the gardens to create an enjoyable and interesting sensory experience.

We started this project, which is unique in the UK, as part of research to encourage people to use hospital green spaces more. Our patients have thoroughly enjoyed getting outdoors and exercising and we have seen real improvements in their positivity and mental wellbeing

The design and layout of the gardens are still to be finalised, but initial impressions have been produced which give an idea of how they could look. It is hoped that the gardens will be completed by spring.

Garden areas are also being created for older people at Stirling Community Hospital and there will be additional path improvements and landscaping taking place in the woodland surrounding Forth Valley Royal Hospital. This includes path work and planting around the loch and trees will be thinned out to open up the view and enable light to penetrate the forest floor. In addition, in March a lochside viewing platform will open on the foundations of a former boathouse. Its position and construction, including a wooden seating area, will create spectacular views and will be a good spot for enjoying a sandwich and a stroll around the loch.

The improvements follow the launch of the UK’s first outdoor, woodland-based recovery programme for cardiac patients in the grounds of Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

The unique programme was developed by Forestry Commission Scotland in collaboration with the, University of Highlands and Islands, which is researching the impact of green spaces on health. As part of the initiative, patients undertook an hourly session every week led by Forestry Commission rangers and NHS Forth Valley staff.

One patient, Arthur Duncan, said the programme had been a great help, adding: “I got a lot out of the woodland sessions - my stress was completely removed when I was taking part and it made me look at things in a new perspective. It was also a great bonding session for all of us with similar conditions. We were able to discuss our problems as well as having a good chat.

The sessions were really hands-on, which I loved. It included some art, learning about trees and making dreamcatchers. I would definitely recommend it.”

NHS Forth Valley senior physiotherapist, Lindsay Scott, who helped run the groups, added: “We started this project, which is unique in the UK, as part of research to encourage people to use hospital green spaces more. Our patients have thoroughly enjoyed getting outdoors and exercising and we have seen real improvements in their positivity and mental wellbeing.”

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