On Friday 8 March 2019, SASH Charity welcomed guests to the opening of dementia friendly garden, Camomile Courtyard at East Surrey Hospital, run by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) opened by special guest Dame Judi Dench.
The courtyard named after the Camomile plant, known for having therapeutic and relaxing properties, is a purpose-built garden area for patients living with dementia that provides an alternative space to the hospital wards in a safe outdoor environment.
The opening event, which attracted patients and their families, people from the local community, generous donors and a host of special guests, including Cllr Dorothy Ross-Tomlin, The Mayor of Reigate and Banstead, was an opportunity to show off the garden’s impressive outdoor features, such as; nature areas, stimulating sounds and colours and areas of reminiscence, walls of recall to help evoke memories and conversations among patients living with dementia.
Dame Judi Dench said: “I do congratulate everybody concerned, it is the most wonderful idea – to get out and just to be with people and to share the day, it’s a lovely thing to do and I hope it brings much joy. I want to thank everybody who constructed the garden and everybody who works here too.”
Michael Wilson, CBE chief executive at SASH said: “We are delighted to open Camomile Courtyard, a dementia friendly outside space for our patients, their families and our clinical teams. I am pleased to see the stimulating elements within the space to support the needs of patients living with dementia or other cognitive impairments. Well done and thank you to everyone involved for making a difference to their lives and that of their families and carers.”
Patients with dementia are admitted to East Surrey Hospital because they are acutely unwell and many come through the emergency department. For these patients, being in hospital can be an overwhelming experience and some patients can become restless and frustrated.
Chris O’Connor, consultant Admiral nurse for dementia at East Surrey Hospital said: “Everyone has worked extremely hard to make this possible and it is fantastic to see the garden ready to be used by patients, their families and the nurses and therapists caring for them.”
Thanks to funds raised from the local community including; businesses, community groups, churches, rotary groups, SASH staff and individuals across Surrey and Sussex, the project received just over £23K of donations.
Andrew Bickerdike, fundraising manager at SASH Charity said: “The courtyard has been a real community project. Thank you to everyone who played a role in helping to bring the courtyard to life. Having Dame Judi join us to open the courtyard, and spend time with patients and staff was wonderful. The courtyard is a great example of what is possible through supporting a local hospital charity.”
To find out more about the project and how you can help please get in touch on 01737 768511 x1295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org