Service users given unsupervised access to Burbage garden

We have made changes to the garden at Burbage ward which means people staying on the ward can have unsupervised access to the outdoor area.

Observation and supervision is a form of restrictive practice, intended to keep people safe and feel safe, but can feel intrusive. Because of the safety of the tree in the garden anybody using the space has needed to have a member of staff with them.

The therapeutic environments programme is improving our clinical spaces to make them safer, more dignified and more therapeutic for those who use them.

The team assessed the tree in the garden alongside guidance from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and decided to fence it off.

This improved service user safety and lead to a reduction in restrictive practice, as people can now go outside in the garden of their own accord.

Therapeutic outdoor benefits

Lorena Cain, nurse consultant for restrictive practice, said: “If you go back to the source of how people are feeling when they come into our services, what helps?

“We all have basic needs of fresh air, we all need vitamin D, there's no doubt about that. Particularly during the winter months we all need open space where we can take a deep breath and experience something that's pleasant. Gardens can provide that.

“People staying on a mental health ward have so many things taken away from them when they walk in the door, there’s almost instant containment. Having a pleasant space then contained because of staff presence just exacerbates that feeling.

“The more we are able to open the environment for people to step out of that containment, without being watched, to get fresh air - that’s going to do the world of good for anybody, it really is.

“It also allows our brilliant staff teams to focus on doing what they do best and working with people to help them in their recovery.”

At SHSC we are committed to using the least restrictive practice at all times. This is part of our Least Restrictive Practice Strategy, which was produced in collaboration with people who use and experience our care.

Coming into hospital can be difficult, and we want to do everything we can to make the care we provide safe and positive, and make sure it incorporates wellbeing, least restrictive practices, human rights and choice and engagement.

Improvements across SHSC environments

As part of our therapeutic environments work we are currently refurbishing our Stanage ward and looking forward to opening our brand new Health Based Place of Safety. It is also planning for a therapeutic renovation of our Maple ward in 2024.

At Stanage ward we have added cloaking to the garden’s exterior fencing. This has allowed us to remove a gate between the ward’s courtyard and large grassy space, meaning service users can now get full unsupervised access to a vast garden. This area will contain large beds for planting and areas for outdoor activities and games.