Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust his making enjoyment of nature and outdoor activities an intentional part of its approach to patient care and staff wellbeing. A number of projects are improving in-patient gardens in mental health and community hospitals, increasing the diversity of the landscapes on trust sites and developing local community services.
The Green Spaces initiative is a collaboration between the trust, Oxford Health Charity and Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership, and links to the trust’s wider Sustainability Strategy and to collaboration with other horticultural and conservation organisations to promote recovery and support care closer to home.
Associate Director of Psychological Services, Dr Jane Fossey, said “The benefits of being in a natural setting are becoming widely recognised and I’m delighted that we are able to support people and promote their wellbeing in this way.”
Ongoing work includes patients and volunteers gardening at trust’s community hospitals and mental health hospitals, wildflower meadows at Warneford and Littlemore hospitals in Oxford and building bee borders at Whiteleaf Centre in Aylesbury.
Health care assistant Rumi Mohideen tells about working with a patient: “As we dug new flower beds, he told me his anxiety left him. He continued to water the plot and weed it independently through his recovery and arranged to have use of some of his mother’s garden after discharge. He continues to garden and practice mindfulness. Clearly we all have a deep connection to nature.
“At the Warneford Hospital we are blessed with a beautiful spacious arboretum, planted wildflowers and a shared space with the local community which includes an orchard, ancient grassland, hedges, woodland and a brook. It is here that patients feed the birds, clear brush to create habitat, observe the wildlife and note changes. A patient commented to me that there were no bees that day and no insect hum; we talked about climate change. ‘Everything has a role,’ he observed.”
The trust welcomes the opportunity to develop projects in a sustainable way and is looking for volunteers who may be interested in supporting our work. Further information can be found on the Oxford Health Charity website.