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Critical Care garden at Royal Cornwall Hospital now open

The new rehabilitation and sensory healing garden for critically ill patients was officially opened on Thursday the 21st September at the Royal Cornwall Hospital. We loved being part of this very important project and our Associate Landscape Architect Nick Fish was passionate about designing a beautiful, peaceful garden for patients and family members to enjoy in the hope it aids recovery and rehabilitation.

The opening:

The original design:

The new Critical Care Healing Garden, which is located below the Critical Care Unit has been filled with sensory plants, two outdoor hospital bed spaces, a rehabilitation bridge, peaceful seating areas for families, carers and staff.

Throughout the centuries, plants have held a central place with clinical treatments. As time passed, however, natural spaces disappeared from medical establishments as there was little understanding or knowledge about the relationship between nature and healing. For the past few decades, scientific research has evidenced the positive effect of nature for patients, families and staff at the hospitals. What the research has undoubtedly shown is that humans are evolutionarily wired to respond favourably in natural spaces.

Pictures of the garden supplied by RCHT:

The peaceful courtyard space is also one of the first therapeutic gardens in the country to have medical gases directly piped into a dedicated outdoor space. This enables patients to spend as much time as they are able experiencing the healing powers of nature.

The garden has been funded entirely by charitable donation, greatly assisted by Robin Hanbury-Tenison and his wife, Louella’s magnificent fundraising campaign. Robin, who lives in Cornwall and was at the opening, believes that the Healing Garden at University Hospitals Plymouth saved his life after he contracted Covid-19 and vowed to encourage all acute hospitals in the UK to create critical care gardens. Kym Vigus, RCHT Critical Care Staff Nurse, has also long campaigned to create a Healing Garden at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

The garden also has beautiful bird sculptures made from Cornwall granite and bronze, donated by Cornish artist, Kurt Jackson:

Cormac Ltd, together with South West Surfacing Specialists Ltd built the garden with local materials whilst expert Cornwall-based gardeners, Alasdair Moore from Heligan, Charles Fox from Glendurgan and Mark Holman, the Palace Gardener, came together to design the planting scheme, rich in vibrant colours and textures. RCHT Project Manager, Rob Hague, has seen the garden through the construction and gas installation phases, after initial consultancy and cost advice was donated free of charge by Truro-based property and construction consultants, Ward Williams Associates. The project has also been filmed voluntarily by local filmmaker, Peter Champness, who is producing a local documentary for RCHT about the creation of the Critical Care Healing Garden. We are looking forward to seeing the film.

We hope this garden plays a positive and restorative role in the wellbeing of patients, families and the staff who look after them so well.


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