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Steven

Steven Wells

Year of Award: 2015 Award State: Victoria Health And Medicine > General
To research the development, use and management of therapeutic gardens within healthcare settings - Singapore, UK, USA
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Therapeutic gardens in healthcare settings are designed to meet the patient’s physical, emotional and psychological needs and are often a component of a patient’s treatment goals and program. Therapeutic gardens can be one of or a combination of the following. Healing or restorative gardens designed as retreats; therapeutic treatment gardens designed with elements to assist health staff address patient goals; and horticultural therapy gardens designed to facilitate horticultural activities that assist with treatment goals. 

Healthcare environments are synonymous with times of stress, anxiety and uncertainly of individual’s health. Therapeutic gardens within hospitals are sought to provide solace, respite and recovery by patients, their families and staff. There is an increasing awareness within the healthcare industry of the value of therapeutic gardens within the provision of a holistic healthcare approach. Challenges lay in the funding, development and management of these gardens in order for them to be suitably managed and sustained.

My study tour provided the opportunity to visit exemplary locations and to meet with experienced and passionate people in Singapore, the UK and the USA. There were many highlights and commonalities with different lessons learnt from each location. The exemplary hospitals with quality therapeutic gardens were those that understood that the internal and external environments of healthcare facilities are equally important for the client’s health and wellbeing. Hospitals that included a strong collaborative approach during the design stage had the most successfully implemented gardens that enabled longevity and sustainability of the gardens, which in turn increased their usage, value and effectiveness. This approach also facilitated increased community involvement and support through funding and volunteer engagement. Quality indeed begets quality. Hospitals that integrated therapeutic gardens with healthy lifestyle choices, horticultural therapy programs and health messages for their clients and staff were more successfully engaged with and maintained. Therapeutic gardens are funded universally via external funding largely from donors. Hospitals that included a maintenance endowment component in the total project costs at the initial funding stage were also the locations that had successfully maintained gardens. Therapeutic gardens that are developed at the entry interface of hospitals achieved a greater use, appeal and overall benefit. 

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