A health board in Scotland is planning to develop calming green spaces at its hospital sites as a way of improving the health of patients, staff and visitors.
NHS Highland has teamed up with Forestry Commission Scotland on plans to create green spaces within hospital grounds across the region. The aim is to provide patients, staff and visitors with attractive areas to relax, get fresh air and speed up recovery times.
In the last few years there has been renewed interest in the use of hospital green space in the UK for health improvement activity, signaling a return to the practice of using contact with nature as part of a holistic program of treatment for patients.
The first hospital to benefit would be the Lawson Memorial, a community hospital which serves the Sutherland area, and a consultation is currently underway to find out what the local community would like to see developed in the grounds.
As part of the consultation, primary care staff across the Highlands are being asked for their views on what they would like to see put in place. Options being considered include a sensory garden, new recreational facilities and paths.
Dr Angus McWilliam, Forestry Commission Scotland’s health advisor for the Highlands and Islands, said: “There is plenty of evidence to show that spending time in green spaces is good for our health and wellbeing. Developing well-designed outdoor spaces, which connect hospital buildings to the natural environment, will not only improve patients’ experience of being in hospital, but will also help promote active recovery and rehabilitation.
“The wide catchment area of the Lawson Memorial Hospital means that people often have to travel quite a distance to get there, so we hope this will make that experience more positive for them, by offering a nice environment to relax, especially if they have children, who can find hospitals intimidating.
“Nurses, doctors and other staff working at these hospital sites will also benefit as they will be able to use the green areas to get some fresh air during the working day, go for walks or eat their lunch outside.”