Taking treatment outdoors
We are working with Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in West London to provide new opportunites for patients to connect with nature during their treatment. The hospital's refurbished Fern Garden will make it possible for patients to have chemotherapy outdoors - thanks to a wide ramp and the installation of exterior power points. Outdoor treatment is part of the history of the Cancer Centre, run by East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which historically specialised in tuberculosis and offered fresh air therapies. Its expansive green lawns remain part of its identity as does its original sanatorium building, though this is now occupied by offices. The redesign of the gardens adjacent to the chemotherapy suite is part of a wider green space enhancement project that will also include the creation of a woodland walkway, inviting both patients and staff to enjoy the grounds. Volunteers have conributed many hours to these intiatives with guidance from Aileen Shackell, the project's landscape designer.
Ginnie Abubakar, the Trust’s community engagement manager, initiated the project, with support from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, after attending a talk about green gyms and realising that what their site lacked in indoor space, it more than made up for in outdoor space. In a staff survey, 90% said they would like to make more use of green space at their workplace. The hospital is undertaking the work with a grant from the Heathrow Community Fund. As with so many projects, completion has sadly been delayed by COVID-19 restrictions, but planting is planned for later this year.