Aldeburgh Hospital Sensory Garden Now Open to Visitors
There is great excitement at Aldeburgh Hospital as the new sensory garden is revealed in all its Autumn splendour! This wonderful new facility is open, not only for patients and clinic attendees at the hospital but also for the whole community, and so curious visitors can be found mingling with patients exercising in the garden and playing on the outdoor musical instruments.
Anne Parsons (Volunteer Garden Team Leader) says “The most frequent comment about the garden is the powerful sense of peace and tranquillity. It is a place people want to return to and indeed the garden is open for everyone to visit whenever they wish. It is particularly lovely at dusk when soft lighting picks out the oak pavilion and the Listening Bench.”
The aim of the sensory garden project was to build a garden dedicated to promoting the rehabilitation, recuperation and both physical and mental well-being of hospital patients, day centre users, clinic users and general community.
Having reviewed the hospital gardens back in 2012/2013, Anne drew up a 5-year project plan for the League of Friends which included the potential for a sensory garden. Working with Matron, staff groups and the NHS, Anne was able to create a design brief for the Sensory garden based on patients’ needs which included:
- Somewhere for patients to engage in activities which increased their physical well-being (walking/gardening)
- Create a calm green space where the mental health of patients and/or community groups will benefit from when participating in individual or group activities
- A place where patients will be able to interact socially and be stimulated by activities provided in the garden
- Help patients recover more quickly and return home faster
- An outdoor space where Visitors and families can spend time with patients
- A quiet place for Hospital staff to rest and reflect
Community groups will be encouraged to use the gardens to meet and hold events. The paths are wide enough for wheelchairs and buggies and several raised planting beds mean everyone can access the plants without having to bend down. There is seating of different kinds around the garden most of which are made of wood with traditional benches and seating built into the raised beds to make it possible to sit amongst scented plants.
The garden was built by a team from Roger Gladwell Landscapes and the exceptional quality of their work has seen the garden entered for a national landscaping design award. The planting will provide interest for every season, and give scent, texture, colour and a home for wildlife. All the planting was done by the hospital’s own award-winning volunteer garden team who spend hours every week making the garden a very special place and are extremely proud of their achievements.
Music Therapy for Dementia Patients
We asked Anne why she chose to include outdoor musical instruments into her design she relied “I wanted to include outdoor musical instruments in the garden for dementia patients and those with sensory impairments to use for music therapy sessions. In addition, local school children will be able to access the instruments for their music lessons.” The funds to provide the outdoor musical instruments was through a donation from an anonymous individual.
Anne finishes by adding “Please don’t think you can’t come in to the gardens because it’s a hospital. Everyone can enjoy the gardens; patients like to see visitors in the gardens, the staff are very welcoming and from Spring there will be activities in the garden which can be enjoyed by all. More of this in due course so come in and see for yourself. You will be very welcome.”
A grand opening of the Hospital Sensory Garden is planned in Spring 2019 when the garden looks its best. There will be several drop-in tea and cake sessions through November so that the whole community can visit the gardens to see the facilities and their potential now the project is completed.