21 August 2014

In bloom helps patient blossom


Liddington ward's August AWP diary movingly describes one patient's experience of helping in the new garden.

Through the ward's 'this is me' document, we discovered we had a keen gardener on the ward whose pride and joy in his younger days was his allotment. Due to becoming frail in health and his cognitive decline, he had to give it up and subsequently moved into a care home. He had not been able to garden for a while.

We had a few new plants that needed planting, so he was asked if he would like to help. At first he politely declined, stating that he gave it up a few years ago as he was too old. After we told him that we would value his advice, he agreed to take a look. We presented him with a Magnolia bush, which raised a smile. He tentatively removed the planting instructions, read them aloud and then proceeded to look for a suitable spot to plant it.

Once he had chosen an area, he set to work with his shovel, digging a deep hole then pushing the soil back in, breaking it up, then re digging the hole. The whole time, he explained that he was doing this to make sure the soil around the plant was loose so that the roots could continue to grow. He  emphasised that if this wasn't done, then the roots wouldn't be able to spread, eventually causing the plant to die. Once the plant was firmly in the ground he turned, gave us a beautiful smile and proceeded to give advice on when to water and how much.

Whilst this was happening, his brother arrived, who quietly sat on the bench watching. When all the planting had been completed, this patient was smiling and laughing. His brother commented over and over that he never thought he would ever see his brother gardening again and was very thankful.

It's not easy getting patients with organic illness to garden. However, it's special moments like these that really make you realise how worthwhile and important gardening can be.

Through this gentleman's experience, other patients' interest was aroused with many watching through the window and congratulating him on his good work.

To find out what else is blooming in the AWP gardens, click here.

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