Enchanting New Garden at Ulster Hospital Mental Health Unit

4th February 2022

A disused patch of land beside the Acute Mental Health Inpatient Unit at the Ulster Hospital has been transformed into an enchanting garden. It will provide service users with an area of beauty and tranquillity filled with scents of lavender and other plants throughout the year. The garden will not only supply patients with space in which to relax, but will also enhance the therapeutic experience through the introduction of a range of design features.

Patients were instrumental in designing the final plans and through their fantastic efforts, a mix of low level plants, delivering seasonal colour and interest, have been introduced. These beds are interspersed with paved areas meandering through sunny and shady zones.

The vision for a garden to enhance patient experience and wellbeing was conceived a number of years ago and has become a reality thanks to additional investment provided by the Department of Health.  It is hoped this serene area, which will be supervised by nursing staff at all times, will support recovery and inspire hope.

A central feature of the garden is a modern pod, providing an opportunity to sit back and listen to music. It can be enclosed and heated too which means it can be enjoyed all year round. This pod offers a place of refuge when someone wants a moment to themselves and  it can also be used to deliver a range of therapies.

The ambience and sensory experiences are further enhanced by discreet spot lighting, enabling the use of the garden in the evening.

The Director of Adult Services was very impressed when she visited the garden for the first time. Margaret O’Kane said, “Safe therapeutic areas are crucially important for the delivery of health care and are particularly vital in order to promote good mental health. I am delighted we have been able to transform a derelict space into something wonderful which will have fantastic health benefits for our patients.”

The garden at the Ulster Hospital will open later this month.