Staff and service users from the Bretton Centre at Fieldhead have taken part in a double celebration to mark the Queen’s Jubilee and the official opening of their new garden.
The Bretton Centre is a low secure forensic service for men with severe mental health conditions who require care under low secure conditions. It is made up of four wards and provides an inpatient pathway from admission through to recovery. To help support their recovery a garden has been created to enable people who might not be allocated leave off the site to spend time outdoors and off the ward.
The garden has been a big piece of work for staff as it required a lot of planning before work could get under way. Due to the nature of the service the area required a full risk assessment. When planning the garden it was important that it was a design that could be easily maintained so that during times when there aren’t service users who are interested or able to take part in gardening it’ll still be easy to up keep with minimal effort and time. It was decided to included raised flower beds that could be kept tidy and would enable service users to have a space that they could eventually use to grow vegetables or flowers.
As well as a place where service users could enjoy a change of scenery the garden is also somewhere that the unit’s OT’s can use for assessment work as part of a person’s occupational therapy, looking at people interests, roles, performance skills, building peoples confidence and self esteem, in order to improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
Health professionals use the process of gardening and associated activities to achieve specific therapeutic goals. The success of horticulture as a form of therapy lies in its range of activities and adaptability of those activities. It is an effective and beneficial treatment for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. It is also a medium through which alternative outcomes such as improving social interactions can be achieved.
The completion of the garden coincided with the Jubilee and service users said they’d like to do something to mark both occasions. It’s important that despite being in a secure unit service users get the chance to normalise activities and taking part in their own Jubilee celebrations was a great way to make them feel part of events taking place across the country.
To mark the opening of the garden staff and service users held a garden party with games and refreshments. Service users were able to take ownership of the event by planning what games would be available and by preparing food. As part of the celebration a tree was planted to mark the occasion with a special plaque designed to note the date and occasion.
Speaking about the event Amy Burn, occupational therapist, said, “The day was a great opportunity for everyone to get involved and feel part of something bigger than just a ward event. Everyone took responsibility for a different part of the day and it was a great way to give service users something different to do which benefits their recovery. The event has actually inspired them to get involved in different things and they are on the look out for other things to plan. We are also looking forward to getting stuck into the garden and hopefully eating our way through any home grown vegetables!”