Help us create a tranquil place for our critically ill patients

Posted on in Fundraising

Laura Johnston, Graham Dyson, Lindsay Garcia and Diane Monkhouse (left to right) in the garden the future ICU gardenA local hospital hopes an ‘intensive care garden’ will offer patients and their relatives a safe, tranquil place to spend precious time together.

Intensive care staff at The James Cook University Hospital are appealing for the public to help them create a dedicated outdoor space for their critically ill patients.

It is hoped that with the help of the local community the team will be able to give one of the outdoor 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 one.

Lindsay Garcia, nurse consultant in critical care, said the team has dreamt about having a dedicated space for their patients for some time but the coronavirus pandemic reinforced the need for it.

“It has been a devastating time for our patients, their relatives and my colleagues,” she added. “It really has been hard for families not to be able to spend valuable time with their loved ones and we really hope this garden will go some way in offering future patients and their families a safe space where they can be together.”

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

Graham Dyson, who is a consultant clinical psychologist, has spent time supporting critical care during the 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.”

Laura Johnston’s artist impression of the ICU garden

Critical care consultant Dr Diane Monkhouse said: “Currently we transfer patients on their beds to one of the hospital’s main entrances which lack peace and privacy. It would mean the world to our patients and their relatives if they had a tranquil place.”

She added: “The local community has shown us amazing generosity and support during the pandemic and we really hope they will once again get behind us to help create this sensory garden.”

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 Laura Johnston Studios, who has created a number of different pieces for James Cook including the dichroic globe in hospitals atrium and an organ donor memorial.

She will also be working with Durham University to evaluate the well-being benefits of the garden.

She said: “I feel delighted to be able to work with the critical care team on this project. I have a personal connection to the critical care unit and my experience as a visitor has really fueled my desire to try to make a difference for patients, staff and families.”

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.