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Mental health rehab garden funded by NHS charity

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'Green thumbed' staff and patients at an NHS mental health rehabilitation unit in Lincoln have been planting, maintaining and cooking produce from their therapeutic garden project.

The Fens is an all-male mental health rehabilitation unit managed by Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT). The Trust’s rehabilitation teams provide tailored therapeutic programmes to empower individuals to take decisions about their future needs, maximise their independence, and increase their overall participation in community life. All programmes are individualised and based on activities of daily living and social integration.

Staff on the unit wanted to make the best use of their outside space; to ensure it was usable for therapies and safe for patients. After working together to plan the garden, the staff took patients to the local shops to choose the items they would be growing.

The Fens team used £500 of money they had raised to purchase equipment, plants and seeds to improve their outside space. The money was raised through the Trust’s charity, Charitable Funds. LPFT’s staff and patients regularly fundraise for the Trust’s Charitable Funds; the money raised can be used to enhance services and facilities that would otherwise not be funded by the NHS.

The patients dug flower beds, planted flowers and vegetables in the new raised beds and planted seeds in a greenhouse; providing both good physical activity and therapy.

Two patients continue to maintain the garden by watering the plants in the evening. Once their tomatoes and vegetables were ripe they were picked and used in meals on the ward, some even being pickled, all by the patients.

One of the patients who has been dedicating his time and efforts into maintaining the garden, said:

I have really enjoyed the garden project, I found the time very therapeutic. Growing things from seed to the finished item has been very pleasing and fulfilling.

Another service user who played a leading role in maintaining the garden, said that he found the whole process exciting and really enjoyed the planting, watering and watching the carpet of flowers grow.

The garden provides ongoing therapy, a sense of responsibility and achievement for the men in the unit, and will for others in the future.

Philip Jackson, Chair of the Trust’s Charitable Funds said:

This is a fantastic use of Charitable Funds money, and exactly the kind of thing we would hope our staff and patients would want to fundraise for.

Our charity is here to help our Trust provide the best care possible for our patients. This project has not only helped current patients on the ward, but it will be a therapeutic area for future patients to enjoy too.

Richard McGuiness, Activity Co-ordinator from the ward, has been working with patients from the beginning of the project. He said:

The garden project has provided an activity for our service users, a sense of wellbeing and a peaceful area to spend time. Our service users have been dedicated to growing and maintaining the produce, right through to pickling, cooking and making things like fruit jams.

We are looking forward to continuing the project in the New Year, with a view to creating a soft fruit orchard in the spring.