A NEW sensory garden is now under construction at Westwood Park Community Hospital.
The green facility has been planned by Ward Matron Andrea Hudson and her team, who hope it will prove a popular resource with patients, staff and members of the community.
Andrea said: “The new sensory garden is being built in the outdoor space we have in the middle of Westwood Park, and will include flower beds and outdoor seating.
“It will also feature non-trip soft-crumb flooring which provides a cushioned surface, reducing the risk of harm in the event that a patient should fall, and raised planters so that patients and volunteers can easily access the garden when planting and caring for it.
“It has been designed with our patients in mind, and will be fully enclosed with planters and seating, and will include areas protected by the sun.”
Andrea said she hoped the garden would prove popular with members of the community too.
Garden for everyone
“The garden will be for everyone, including staff, visitors and members of our local communities, but it will most importantly be a space for our patients, as many of them have cognitive impairment or dementia.
“Westwood Park includes an 18-bed inpatient ward, which is predominantly for rehab, so we want to be able to use the garden for social rehabilitation to help our patients relax, feel calmer and stimulate them in other ways to trigger memories.”
Andrea added that staff hoped to be able to enjoy seasonal planting with the Occupational Therapy team, and “grow some basic produce, like strawberries patients can eat for dessert”.
“The plan is to work with the community volunteers who will do some of the planting and help care for the garden. But we want it to be low maintenance.
“We also want the garden to be fully inclusive and will be using non-toxic plants which are fragrant and OK to touch as part of a sensory environment.
“It’s a massive project that we have been trying to get the funding for, and we’d now like people to donate plants too.
“We’re also looking at getting local art students involved, who could maybe paint some murals for us.”
Andrea and her team hope that the community around Westwood Park, which includes Queensbury, Horton Bank Top, Buttershaw and Wibsey, will now get involved and support the garden.
“Lots of our patients are local to the area and this is about community inclusion and making the service better for our local population. We want it to be a pleasant, green space where people feel safe. It’s about engaging patients in other ways rather than just through physical rehab.
“And we also want to use the outdoor space for community rehab to benefit the wider community. It’s about thinking longer term about how people can enjoy it, and not just our ward patients.
“We’ve been waiting for the garden and everyone is now so excited it is happening,” Andrea added. “It’s very much about community inclusion.”