North Cotswolds Hospital was built in 2012 to replace a town centre cottage hospital. The site is on the outskirts of the town, adjoining open countryside, and comprises extensive ornamental gardens with some semi naturalised copses. The site is drained with a system of swales with a variety of bog plants. The gardens are surrounded on two sides by hedges laid using traditional method, and the grounds are maintained by a dedicated team of experienced volunteers with some assistance from a wildlife volunteer project. Work is ongoing to ensure that the gardens are used more frequently by staff, visitors and patients.
246 NHS Forest trees were planted on site as part of the 2012 development. There are accessible pathways throughout the trees, and the site is used by staff, patients and the local community for rest, relaxation and gentle exercise.
Part of the site was specifically designed, with input from staff, for occupational therapists to use with their patients to assist with rehabilitation, thereby improving independence and self-belief. In a very small space it offers:
- Slightly raised benches
- Steps and a sloping path with handrails
- Different surfaces encompassing gravel, grass and brick
The benches help people stand up more easily, while they practise walking up and down the steps and sloping path with handrails either individually with staff or in groups. The space is planted up to provide beauty and colour, while the hardscaping provides visual interest in winter.
The occupational therapists and physiotherapists mainly use the garden in the warmer months. It is right next to the gym, where patio doors open out onto the different surface space, so if someone needs to practise mobility, they can easily go outdoors. An Active Balance Class record can track the progress of the patient over nine months.
The site was highly commended at the NHS Forest Conference Awards 2014. See the application here.