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Durham University

Durham University News

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Creating a tranquil place for critically ill patients

(20 May 2021)

Artist's impression of the new intensive care garden planned for The James Cook University Hospital. Credit Laura Johnston

We’re working with a local hospital to create an intensive care garden for critically ill patients and their relatives.

Our Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing’s Brain, Body and Behaviour Academy is supporting efforts by intensive care staff at The James Cook University Hospital to create an outdoor space that patients, staff and relatives can enjoy together.

The plan is to give one of spaces near to the hospital’s main atrium a makeover, creating a private and relaxing garden for relatives to spend time in when visiting their loved ones.

Given the need to transport patients on ventilators with additional monitoring equipment, it is vital that the space is safe and accessible.

Psychological benefits

Consultant clinical psychologist Graham Dyson has spent time supporting critical care during the Covid-19 pandemic along with his medical psychology colleagues.

He said: “The psychological and emotional benefits of nature and time in gardens are well evidenced and result in improved mood, social functioning, emotional well-being and physical health.

“This garden offers the opportunity to have a restful space for critical care patients, carers and loved ones who are all recovering from the impact of extremely difficult and traumatic circumstances.

“It promises to have benefits to rehabilitation as patients become re-acquainted with the outside world and use their senses to stimulate the healing process.”

Donations welcome

When not used by patients the garden will also offer a quiet place for staff from the critical care unit to go to relax, reflect and take some time out.

The garden is being designed by local artist Dr Laura Johnston Studios. Laura, who is a postdoctoral researcher at Durham, will be part of a team of experts from the University who will evaluate the well-being benefits of the garden.

If you would like to donate to the hospital’s ICU garden you can do so via the South Tees Hospitals GoFundMe page – www.justgiving.com/campaign/ICUGarden or you can phone the team on 01642 854160.

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