Space for Growth at St. Ann's Hospital, Poole

2nd June 2017

Space for Growth is a project in the grounds of St. Ann's Hospital. The Space for Growth team won Dorset HealthCare’s innovation competition – Dragons' Den – in September 2016.

A Garden Party is being held in July to celebrate the success of Space for Growth. Lots of wards are getting involved running stalls, games, a BBQ and refreshments. We’ll even have alpacas on site so come along and join the fun.

More about Space for Growth

Space for Growth - This is what the project is all about (by Alison Rose, Mel Harding, and Mike Oates)

At our hospital site we are here to support and treat people when they are ill, but we also have an important role to play in recovery and promoting healthy lifestyles. This project provides garden spaces within the hospital grounds which will improve the health and well-being of patients, visitors and staff.
Research evidence demonstrates that recovery rates improve with social interaction and outdoor activities such as gardening. They can have a positive effect on mental health and boost the moods of participants, as well as promoting health eating.

The benefits of the 'Space for Growth' project are endless, from encouraging walking in a natural setting to giving us an opportunity to work closer with our partners, staff, volunteers, patients and local communities.

How is the project going?

One of the key objectives of the project was to make sure the space was accessible to all, regardless of physical capabilities, so four raised beds were created with space between them for wheelchair access.

Local companies were keen to get involved. Eco Sustainable Solutions (which donated 18 tonnes of top-soil), Dorchester Timber (which provided discounts), and Mark Reynolds from G Burley and Sons all helped get the project off the ground and keep costs low. The raised beds were built by end of March.

Occupational Therapist Mel Harding and Nurse Alison Rose were keen to make sure patients were involved, so seed planting started early and created a real buzz on the wards. Waitrose in Parkstone, Poole, also provided seed kits for indoor gardening. The greenhouse at St Ann’s was cleaned up and seedlings were put there before outdoor planting. Patients had a painting party to spruce up a nearby shed, too.

The four raised beds have been designated for vegetables, herbs or flowers and planting is well underway. Patients are loving this project – rotas have been set up for planting and watering, and everyone is enjoying being outside in this area.

Community Links

Mel, Alison, and Mike have been busy connecting with the local community. Poole Grammar School was very helpful, sharing its experience of setting up its Food for Life Project. Mike, Dorset HealthCare’s chaplain, has been giving talks to organisations such as the Women’s Institute, Mothers Union and Inner Wheel to promote the project and to help breakdown stigma around mental health. Waitrose even made Space for Growth its charity of the month, and donated £250.

Space for Growth - St Anns Hospital Garden Party - Poole