Our Founder & Chair of Trustees, Dr Olivia Chapple, is one of the contributors to the latest edition of Practising Connection – Public Health and The Surgery of the Future 4.0which has been published by Jericho Chambers on behalf of Assura PLC. 

Please click here to read Olivia’s full piece (see pages 30-32) 

Practising Connection is dedicated to exploring radical alternatives to primary healthcare and argues that future design is as much about systems as it is about buildings and places. 

With its origins firmly rooted back in Autumn 2020, during the second national lockdown, this instalment builds on the learnings and achievements of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to place patients at the front-and-centre of everything. It does so by embracing the very best of medical practice, reformed NHS institutions and, critically, community collective action. 

Olivia’s article focussed particularly on explaining more about the benefits of nature to patients’ wellbeing and morale, something seen in our gardens across the UK. 

In her piece, she introduces the charity and emphasises that our mission is to bring a Horatio’s Garden to all the UK’s spinal injury centres, whilst simultaneously trailblazing the benefits of gardens in healthcare. 

Importantly, Olivia demonstrates that our work is evidence-based, with Horatio’s Garden notably appearing as an example of the overwhelming evidence for the benefits of gardens to health in The King’s Fund Report (2016). Moreover, the charity’s annual Impact Report focusses on information gathered from those visiting our gardens and has attested to the fact that our sanctuaries have a profound impact on patients’ wellbeing, mood, sleep and physical rehabilitation. Vitally, Olivia also mentions that this year every haven has helped patients, families and NHS staff to cope with the effects of Covid-19 too. 

The enduring message of Olivia’s piece is summed up perfectly in her own words: ‘Gardens are not just a pretty edition – they should be a vital part of healthcare design. Natural sanctuaries add phenomenal value to any care setting with their multifactorial physical impact, mental health benefits and as social spaces.’ 

As Olivia writes alongside a wealth of other knowledgeable, engaging individuals, including Dame Laura Lee DBE, Chief Executive of charity Maggie’s, the essay collection is powerful one. Combined, it provides an invaluable insight into how primary care buildings and environments will need to evolve to support patient experiences of local health services and improve equality of access to healthcare in future.