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June 29 2020

coronavirus update: horatio’s garden stoke mandeville

Another month of 2020 has passed in the blink of an eye, which means we have more stories for you from each of our beautiful gardens around the UK.

Whilst lots of you reading this will know how important outdoor spaces are for everyone’s health and wellbeing, this year has truly placed the value of nature at the forefront of our collective consciousness. Just as your gardens, local parks, allotments and window boxes will have brought a little joy to your life, Horatio’s Garden has been there to do the same for patients and NHS staff. 

To read the latest news from Salisbury, Scotland and Oswestry, please click the respective links. 

Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville has come into its own throughout the pandemic as a place for the Occupational Therapy team of the National Spinal Injuries Centre to support patients as they learn to use a wheelchair and adjust to life with a spinal cord injury.

The garden has been an invaluable resource for all elements of patients’ physical rehabilitation, particularly as patients have been spending far less time in hospital than they usually would. Whereas the overwhelming majority of patients spend upwards of two months in hospital under normal circumstances, people’s safety has been paramount throughout the past few months. As many of the patients will have reduced lung function as a result of their injuries, they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of Coronavirus, thus patients are facing a quick turnaround between arriving and leaving the centre.

Consequently, having Horatio’s Garden as a space for physical rehabilitation has been even more important than usual, as it has enabled everyone to have as much time with the OT team as possible before leaving the centre. It has been vital to ensuring that patients and their loved ones will be able to cope at home, with the promise that those who need further rehabilitation will be able to return to the centre once the threat from Coronavirus has reduced.

Moreover, patients and staff have actually enjoyed having the opportunity to spend more time together outside in the garden. Plenty of people have commented on how it’s quite literally a breath of fresh air from everything they’re doing on the ward, whilst many more have shared that it makes their time in rehabilitation feel more enjoyable. One particular patient spent the afternoon with their physiotherapist weaving in and out of chairs in the garden as part of their wheelchair training, with sounds of the two’s laughter echoing throughout the garden.

Head Gardener Jacqui Martin-Löf has also been sure to offer everyone spending time in the spinal centre the opportunity to take part in socially distant garden therapy too. One young patient in particular, Sam, revealed himself to be a passionate gardener and has loved being able to explore the garden as a form of practical rehabilitation. He’s not only been helping Head Gardener Jacqui with watering throughout the scorching weather, but has also enjoyed potting up his own plants to take home with him.

Similarly, although we haven’t seen so many children visiting the centre lately, Head Gardener Jacqui and Asssistant Anna have found an innovative way of bringing a little of the Horatio’s Garden spirit to them by inviting a few of them to name the garden’s mosaic minibeasts, created by volunteer Jac Osman-Allu. So far Oscar and Bella have shared their names, with Oscar naming the ladybird Fred and Bella calling the snail Seren!

All the volunteers have done a wonderful job of keeping in touch with each other, with Head Gardener Jacqui also sharing little garden-related tasks that everyone has been able to take part in at home. They’ve helped to ensure that the team remain close and now that we’re beginning to welcome a few volunteers back to the garden, it will be lovely to feel their warmth and presence in person amongst the planting.

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