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The therapeutic benefits of gardens in hospice care

The benefits of a hospice can be attributed far wider the building itself, but to their outdoor space which provides a sanctuary for patients, their families and carers, facing the challenges that come with a life-limiting diagnosis.

Lush green gardens have been a feature at Thames Hospice, in Windsor, since it was built more than 30 years ago. The grounds provide calming water features and beautiful flower beds designed to awaken the senses and provide a tranquil area for relaxation and reflection, as well as a wonderful setting for events and special occasions. Dedicated volunteers give up their time to maintain the gardens, which also host services for supporters to come together to remember their loved ones.

For those who need hospice care, gardens can provide a place to have difficult conversations in a calmer environment, time to think away from the Inpatient Unit, a place for children to play and families to enjoy precious time together. Thames Hospice runs gardening projects in its Day Therapy Unit (DTU), promoting physical and emotional wellbeing, independence and quality of life. DTU provides a social environment, with activities like sowing seeds reducing stress and increasing dexterity, while boosting self-confidence so patients feel empowered to achieve a goal.

Flowers have long been emblems of the hospice movement – symbolising beauty and light in times of darkness. Thames Hospice uses the vibrant sunflower as an icon for its annual remembrance walk – The Sunflower Walk. The idea of the sunflower drawing strength by following the pattern of the sun to a new dawn, is a powerful message for patients striving to make the most of every remaining day.

In a recent post on the Thames Hospice Facebook page, the daughter of a patient beautifully summed up the importance of outside space to hospices. She said: “The Thames Hospice garden is a magical, tranquil, giving space on the darkest of days - it brings peace and solace. In this garden I have spent priceless time, I have talked, I have smiled, I have laughed uncontrollably, I have sat in silence, I have reflected, I have cried to a point where I ran out of tears. In this garden love is in constant supply - a space beyond any measure.”

Amy Danbrowsky, Marketing and PR Officer

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