The Russell Clinic is our residential rehabilitation centre at Wonford House in Exeter, which supports people through their recovery by working alongside them to support them to build a meaningful, positive life.
During this past hot summer, staff at the Clinic were working hard to improve the garden area, which is used by both residents and staff on a daily basis. The aim was to create a space that could be used to further occupational therapy, run classes such as art and pottery and have community meals. Mel Joslin, PA at the Clinic, contacted local garden centres to find out if they could help in the regeneration of the garden. Kings Garden Centre, based in Exmouth, invited Mel to visit them, along with Occupational Therapist Steve May and one of the Clinic’s residents.
When Kings staff heard about their vision for the garden, they were immediately on board, believing that the garden would be hugely important to the residents. As a result of this, Kings very kindly offered to donate any of the items needed, and have been hugely generous – donating tens of plants, pots and trees.
As well as this, New Leaf, a part of our Vocational Rehabilitation Service which offers an opportunity for people to test themselves outside of a medical environment, were commissioned to build a long trestle table. The table was built by a team including a Russell Clinic resident who attends sessions there, and has become the central point of the garden, where many activities take place.
A final element of the garden project was for patients to take part in art sessions to create art work to display outside. Residents worked alongside Helene Dillistone-Miller, one of the Clinic’s volunteers, to create beautiful work which now features in the garden.
Earlier in the year, there was a grand opening of the new garden, in which residents and staff gathered for tea and cake at the new table, played communal games and planted a tree to commemorate the opening. Consultant Charles Dixon planted the tree along with Senior Nurse Manager Louise O’Neill, and spoke of how proud he was of the work that had gone into the new garden by all those involved.
Speaking after the opening, Mel said, “A lot of thought has gone into the colours and scents of the plants and as the garden progresses it is hoped it will be an enjoyable, calm space for the residents to enjoy. The residents have also taken part in the weekly trips to Kings and creating the garden - planting, watering and painting the benches which they have all enjoyed. There continues to be a garden group to maintain the garden but we are hoping to recruit a volunteer gardening to help progress the project.”