The turning point in Robin Hanbury-Tenison’s six-week battle with the complications of Covid-19 was a trip to a ‘secret garden’. Robin was hooked up to life-saving equipment as he struggled with Covid, but staff still insisted they wheeled him from the intensive care unit (ICU) to an outdoor oasis of calm in the hospital, a moment Robin now credits with his recovery. Over the next six weeks Robin was very poorly, he drifted in and out of consciousness and at one point, he developed multiple organ failure as the virus mvoed through his body.
Robin was clearly lucky to survive, but he was also very lucky that the hospital where he was treated is one of roughly 20 in the UK to have a dedicated ICU garden.
Derriford’s garden is a small, paved courtyard with a raised flower bed. It is very close to the ICU ward and the staff believe in its restorative powers. It means that seriously ill patients like Robin have access to fresh air and sunshine, no matter how much life-saving equipment they require, something which many patients do not.
An intensive care nurse called Kate says that ‘Intensive care is a very difficult place to be; you have little control, you’re in an unfamiliar environment and drugs can affect your level of consciousness. But exposure to fresh air and sunshine, even briefly, seems to remind patients of what they are missing, and somehow reassures them that they can recover. I have seen thousands of amazing recovery cases just like Robin’s. The effect of gardens like these can be miraculous.’
A true examples of the power of the outside, and horticulture. We believe that horticulture is a brilliant career to go into, for this reason. Working outdoors in nature can be so very rewarding and also excellent for mental health.