Sky Garden provides retreat for intensive care patients

New indoor garden unveiled at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

The new garden is one of only two in the UK designed specifically for intensive care patients
The new garden is one of only two in the UK designed specifically for intensive care patients

A new indoor Sky Garden is providing a welcome retreat for patients, staff and visitors at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its charity, CW+, have unveiled the new garden, which was designed by award-winning landscape designer and CW+ artist in residence, Jinny Blom.  

Part of the redevelopment and expansion of the recently-opened Adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on the top floor of the hospital, the garden is sited adjacent to the ICU, with Blom creating a transformative experience for both patients and staff away from the clinical environment.  

To go and sit among plants and nature, especially in the context of a bustling hospital, has an immediate positive impact on stress levels

Blom is a former psychologist and psychotherapist and understands the benefits of biophilia in healthcare and the impact of nature, plants, and landscapes on patient wellness and recovery.

The garden was developed through consultation and design workshops with former patients and ICU staff, with multiple zones responding to the many differing needs of the ICU.  

Meeting all needs

For example, one side of the garden is more active, with a physiotherapy ramp for recovering patients. But there is also a sociable space for conversation or just some peace and quiet.   

With first-hand experience of working in a stressful NHS environment, Blom has also incorporated sleep pods, which were funded by NHS Charities Together, and are in a quiet corner of the garden for use by medical staff who need to work long.  

And there is a quiet zone where a patient can be brought out on their bed to spend private time with their family.  

The overall design of the garden takes its cue from Modernist architecture, made primarily from low-toxin timber and with furniture designed with a calming colour palette and soft-to-touch yet hard-wearing lino.  

A tree canopy will shade the garden from its bright natural light, and the plants have been chosen for their suitability to the demanding environment and they will be cared for organically, without chemicals or pesticides. 

There is a wealth of research which demonstrates how natural environments have a real impact on patient’s wellbeing, recovery and mood

Blom said: “Gardens, quite simply, improve our lives.  

“To go and sit among plants and nature, especially in the context of a bustling hospital, has an immediate positive impact on stress levels.  

“The Sky Garden will provide an irreplaceable source of respite to those in need."

Supporting wellbeing and recovery

Trystan Hawkins, director of patient environment at CW+, adds: “We are thrilled with the Sky Garden which Jinny has so carefully designed.

“There is a wealth of research which demonstrates how natural environments have a real impact on patient’s wellbeing, recovery and mood.

“Many of our patients, especially in ICU, are unable to leave the hospital, often for prolonged lengths of time, so having this space of tranquillity and nature will be invaluable."

Many of our patients, especially in ICU, are unable to leave the hospital, often for prolonged lengths of time, so having this space of tranquillity and nature will be invaluable

The garden sits alongside the new, world-class adult and neonatal intensive care units, which opened last month and which provide unique patient-centred care and the latest innovations and digital solutions to improve patient experience and recovery. 

Lesley Watts, chief executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to open the Sky Garden, which will be a welcome green space to so many patients, and being located outside our new state-of-the-art ICU, it will complement our patient-led approach to care in the unit.”

The Sky Garden is one of only two green spaces in the UK designed specifically to incorporate the physical and psychological needs of intensive care patients and their families. 

 

 

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