To mark the NHS’s 70th birthday, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) will receive a garden from the world’s most famous flower show this summer for the benefit of patients and staff, thanks to a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) competition.
The RHS Feel Good Garden, a key feature at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 (22-26 May) designed by Matt Keightley, will be relocated to the Trust, which provides care and treatment to vulnerable adults in a built-up part of London where green space is limited.
Some 39 NHS Mental Health Trusts entered the competition and the judging panel, which included Tim Kendall, National clinical director for mental health at NHS England and NHS Improvement, and Guy Barter, RHS chief horticulturalist, decided C&I should be awarded the garden.
C&I provides inpatient and community mental health services and the garden will be located at its Highgate Mental Health Centre, one of its two inpatient psychiatric sites.
From the date of installation, the garden will be accessible on a daily basis for around 30 adults and enjoyed by hundreds more patients and staff who are cared for and work in the wards surrounding and overlooking the space. As the garden develops, the Trust project team will work with those staff and patients to ensure the benefits and enjoyment of this unique gift are felt by as many people as possible.
Andrew Kingston, C&I recovery service manager with expertise in horticultural therapy, said: “We serve older adults with mental health problems, such as schizophrenia and severe depression, or dementia. At the time of their arrival, people can be extremely distressed and agitated.
“An attractive and well-maintained outdoor garden area will be invaluable in contributing to their recovery. It will also give these very vulnerable individuals a rare opportunity to interact with an outdoor environment and will be of significant support in their recovery. It’s a unique and wonderful gift to patients, their relatives and carers, as well as staff on the units.”
The competition is a joint venture between the RHS and the NHS, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary in July, to raise awareness of the positive impact that horticulture has on mental health and to promote how gardens can provide relaxing and rehabilitative spaces.
Keightley, twice-winner of the RHS/BBC People’s Choice Award at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and part of the judging panel, said: “Looking through the submissions was a really moving experience and demonstrated just how valuable a green space or garden can be for patients and staff. There were so many inspiring entries, it was not an easy decision.
“I am delighted that the RHS Feel Good Garden will live on, providing a calm and beautiful space for adults in need of respite. A highlight is visiting the space and meeting patients and staff to really understand how we can make this the best garden it can be for the people using, working and visiting the trust.”
The RHS Feel Good Garden will go to C&I in June and be re-created in an outdoor space that is currently underused.
Keightley visited Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust on Monday 9 April to start making plans for the new site and speak to patients and Trust staff about their aspirations for the new garden.