Dementia patients at a hospital can now enjoy the great outdoors in a newly-refurbished courtyard and open area especially designed for people with the devastating memory-loss condition.
The improvements were unveiled on Rydal Ward at Knowsley Resource and Recovery Centre, which is based at Whiston Hospital.
The £80,000 revamp means patients can now head out to enjoy the fresh air and sun.
The new courtyard has been specially designed to meet the needs of older people with dementia. Previously, the pavement areas were surrounded by a kerb next to low flower beds which presented a health and safety risk for patients and meant the courtyard was unusable.
This had been highlighted during a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection as an area which needed addressing to enable patients to safely access the outdoor space.
All paving has now been removed and replaced with soft, granular flooring to create an even surface and a safety handrail has been installed around the perimeter of the courtyard.
Other features include a yellow brick road to aid orientation around the garden, a sand pit for promoting the recall of reminiscing, areas to promote physical activity such as skittles and several large planters which will be used for therapeutic activities on the ward so patients can grow their own plants and produce.
The new-look courtyard was unveiled by a host of special guests, including the Spectrum Community Choir, the Mayor of Halton Coun Margaret Horabin, the Mayor of Prescot Coun Pat Cook, former Everton footballer Graham Stuart and rugby players from Widnes Vikings.
Lisa Murray, ward manager on Rydal Ward, said: “Previously, all patients needed to be accompanied on a one-to-one basis when using the garden due to the potential risk of someone having a fall. However, the new courtyard now provides a safe environment for therapeutic activities and social events.
We were also delighted to have the Spectrum Community Choir perform at our opening event, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. We recognise the importance of music and the ability it has to reduce the symptoms of dementia, such as agitation, apathy and anxiety.”
Simon Barber, chief executive at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted with this new and improved outdoor space. In addition to the greater independence and privacy that patients will benefit from, it’s also a space they can enjoy with their families and carers.