New Indoor Garden Opens At Chelsea And Westminster Hospital


Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its charity CW+ have this week unveiled a new indoor botanical Sky Garden at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, designed by award-winning landscape designer and CW+ Artist in Residence, Jinny Blom.  The Sky Garden will bring the outdoors inside, supporting the cognitive function, wellbeing, and rehabilitation of patients in intensive care.

CW+ aims to improve the patient environment and experience in the hospital, and research has shown that incorporating elements of nature into healthcare environments can improve healing.  The Sky Garden is part of the redevelopment and expansion of the recently opened Adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on the top floor of the hospital, and has been installed adjacent to the ICU, with Jinny creating a transformative experience for both patients and staff, where they can escape into nature and feel transported away from the clinical environment.

Jinny, who was appointed by CW+ to design the garden, is a former Psychologist and Psychotherapist, and knows only too well the benefits of biophilia (meaning ‘love of nature’) in healthcare and the impact of nature, plants and landscapes on patient recovery and wellness.  Developed through consultation and design workshops with former patients and ICU staff, Jinny’s idea was to create a space with multiple zones responding to the many differing needs of the ICU.  As a result, one side of the garden is more active with a physiotherapy ramp for recovering patients, but there is also a sociable space for conversations or just some peace and quiet.

With first-hand experience of working in a stressful NHS environment, Jinny has also incorporated sleep pods, which were funded by NHS Charities Together, and are in a quiet corner of the garden for medical staff who need to work long hours caring for patients with complex needs.  There is also a quiet zone where a patient can be brought on their bed and spend precious private time with their family.

The design of the garden takes its cue from Modernist architecture.  The garden is very low toxin in its makeup as it is principally timber.  Furniture has been designed with a calming colour palette and uses soft-to-touch yet hard-wearing lino, another natural product made of flax.  Abundant planting ameliorates the air and sound quality within the garden.  The tree canopy will shade the garden from its bright natural light, and the plants within the garden have been chosen for their suitability to this demanding environment and will be cared for organically, without chemicals or pesticides.

Jinny Blom, who also created a Greenhaven Garden at the rear of the hospital several years ago, says: “Gardens, quite simply, improve our lives.  To go and sit amongst plants and nature, especially in the context of a bustling hospital, has an immediate positive impact on stress levels.  The Sky Garden will provide an irreplaceable source of respite to those in need”. 

Trystan Hawkins, Director of Patient Environment at CW+, says: “We are thrilled with the Sky Garden which Jinny has so carefully designed. There is a wealth of research which demonstrates how natural environments have a real impact on patient’s wellbeing, recovery and mood. Many of our patients, especially in ICU, are unable to leave the hospital, often for prolonged lengths of time, so having this space of tranquillity and nature will be invaluable”.

The new, world-class adult and neonatal intensive care units which opened last month at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital provide unique patient-centred care, and the latest innovations and digital solutions to improve patient experience and recovery.

Lesley Watts, Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, says: “We are delighted to open the Sky Garden which will be a welcome green space to so many patients, and being located outside our new state-of-the-art ICU, will complement our patient-led approach to care in the unit.  We are very grateful for the generous donations from patients and our supporters. Their unfailing kindness, support and interest that they have shown led to the creation and funding of this marvellous indoor garden, which will provide a therapeutic and relaxing space for our patients and staff.”

CW+ works throughout the hospital, transforming and improving the patient environment and experience.  The Sky Garden is one of only two green spaces in the UK designed specifically to incorporate the physical and psychological needs of intensive care patients and their families.

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