On 1 June, patients, trustees and staff at Weston Hospicecare had a visit from Lisi Pilgrem of Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care, who led the group in the first session of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture at Weston Hospicecare.

Phyllis Tuckwell is currently pioneering a program that sees Lisi holding gardening sessions for patients at Phyllis Tuckwell and travelling around to deliver training that encourages other hospices to start their own gardening projects.

‘Research shows that gardening is good for us: just sitting — either indoors or out — looking at hedges, trees and flowers can benefit our wellbeing, and taking part in a gardening activity for just 20 minutes, three times a week, can reduce stress levels,’ Lisi said. ‘Even when people are unable to access all of their garden, they might be able to manage light activities (such as container gardening), and we’ve really seen the benefit that doing this has had.’

On the day, seven Weston Hospicecare patients gathered in the Day Hospice to take part in the activity, which involved choosing a herb to pot up and take home with them.

‘Social and Therapeutic Horticulture can have such a positive impact on people’s well-being, and we’ve had really great feedback from those that attended,’ said Stacy Gaynor, Occupational Therapist and Day Hospice lead at Weston Hospicecare. ‘I’d like to express my gratitude to Lisi Pilgrim and am thrilled that, in the near future, this will hopefully be something we will be able to offer our patients.’

Several of the patients said they were initially apprehensive about joining in on the sessions, particularly as they thought they couldn’t do gardening any more. Weston Hospicecare patient Bob Stevens said, ‘Who would’ve thought this morning that I would be able to pot up a rosemary bush? I found it amazing. I really enjoyed it, and I think everybody else at the table enjoyed their hour-long session. I think it was very professionally done and professionally presented, and I look forward to carrying on with gardening.’

Weston Hospicecare is hoping to continue with the programme and to expand its outdoor gardening options for patients as well. To secure funding for the projects, the hospice has applied for a Bags of Help grant through Tesco. Shoppers at Tesco can vote for one of three groups, including Weston Hospicecare, throughout June. If the hospice receives the most tokens, they could be awarded up to £4,000 for the project.

‘We’re so pleased to have been shortlisted for the Tesco Bags of Help initiative funding, and we hope Tesco shoppers will vote for us so we can fund this project, which our patients would very much enjoy,’ said Rachel Mansfield, community fundraiser at Weston Hospicecare. ‘Whether through active or passive participation, gardening will improve our patients’ wellbeing. With adapted equipment and facilities, each individual will be able to undertake tasks within their capability and energy levels.’


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