Introduction Our hospice has provided a horticultural therapy group which is open to in- and out- patients since February 2016. Gardening and being outdoors have well-documented benefits for mental health and general well-being. This group is an example of ‘People’ within the conference, extending our experience of our patients and volunteers.
Aims The group was formed to help patients spend time with plants and nature. We believe we can reach patients who do not use other services, and provide a relaxed, non-medicalised environment in which patients can support each other. It is patient-led, giving people control of their situation. It is also a setting for emotional support, minor symptom control advice, and identifying patients who need other services or medical follow up.
Methods We hold a weekly two- hour group at the hospice. It is facilitated by a nurse, a horticultural therapist and a volunteer.
We do low-impact activities such as seed sowing and caring for two large raised beds. Patients take plants or produce home or to their bedside. There is time for quiet contemplation, to enjoy the birds, fresh air and the feel of warm soil on their hands.
Results Through patients’ reports and observation, we have noticed the benefits of support, advice and sense of well-being. A dying patient who had previously sown cress smelt it and smiled as we held it under her nose. One patient who used to have a garden but now lives in a flat loves being outside again. We have observed peer support and patients taking ownership of the raised beds. Symptom control advice has been given and patients have been referred to our Clinical Nurse Specialists.
Conclusion We plan to review progress at six months.
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