Leighton Hospital in Crewe opens Therapy Garden
PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 August 2016
Two volunteers have put their heart and soul into a special garden at Leighton Hospital, Crewe. Rebekka O’Grady went along to find out more
When Sue Worthington and David Williams stepped onto the site in Leighton Hospital where they planned to build a special garden, they were met with a very large hole.
‘There had been a therapy garden here for over 30 years, but it had to be removed due to the new operation theatre block and critical care centre being built,’ said recently retired Sue. She worked at the hospital in Crewe as an occupational therapy assistant practitioner for 20 years.
One part of the multi-million pound project there was always going to be a garden and Sue said she wanted to be a part of it. ‘When working here, the old garden was my responsibility so I wanted to be involved with the reinstatement of it. I saw David’s work and persuaded him to come on board.’
That was three years ago, and the Therapy Garden has just been declared as complete and ready for use. David, who owns his own landscaping company in Sandbach, Kerrystone Garden Design and Build, said that it takes time to get something of this scale done. ‘I put some content plans together but it was quite a big brief. It had to have an aesthetic side but it was also important to know how it was going to work for the patients.’
‘It was pretty much the two of us doing it alone,’ added Sue, from Sandbach. Once the space had been tarmacked and hard landscaping completed, the two of them started on the design and planting. ‘We work well together, just as well really!’
The results are breathtaking. Located just behind the stroke ward, the garden is a haven for patients and staff to relax away from the busy hospital environment. The garden is separated by a bespoke curved fence, to incorporate a small garden for the Critical Care unit next door. It features large purple concrete rings with various plants including multi-stemmed silver birch and phormiums. There is also a sensory herb garden, which is wheelchair height.
Purple is the colour of the Stroke Association, and the garden will be a key place for patients within the ward. As many people lose balance and sensitivity after a stroke, a special hazard path has been built to help reintroduce different surfaces and improve mobility with physiotherapy.
‘We’ve tried to recreate the hazards that occur in everyday life, for example, ramps and kerbstones,’ said Sue, explaining that the horticultural therapy will address all sorts of issues, both cognitive, psychologically and physically.
‘We can work on standing, sitting and hand-eye co-ordination, and because patients will be absorbed in what they are doing, the results will be better as it’s not in a clinical setting...simple activities but fantastic results.’
Sue and David’s vision now is to create innovative gardens in the courtyards along the main corridors of the hospital, as well as rejuvenating some of the existing garden areas. The only concern is the funding of the projects as it is being run voluntarily. The Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charitable Fund and League of Friends provided some of the cash, but the team may need sponsorship.
‘We have now been asked to design a dementia friendly area which will be called the Nightingale Garden,’ said David, who gave his time for free to work on the Therapy Garden. He thinks that anyone who had an opportunity to work on a project of this size, would seize it.
‘To design something that will be here for years and will last is amazing. It’s a great reward to see what a difference this garden has made and we want the same impact for the others.’