The Chelsea garden will be there for parents who can’t bear to leave their children’s side, writes Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Children from across the UK come to Great Ormond Street Hospital in urgent need of life-saving treatment. Children from just a few hours old up to 18 years come here when they are too ill to be treated by their local hospital. Given the complex nature of many of the conditions treated here, parents can often spend months on end at the hospital. And for some of our smallest patients, the hospital is the only home they’ve ever known.
GOSH is an extraordinary place, with a school so children can continue with their education, a chapel, a Citizen’s Advice Bureau, parent accommodation and other services to help patients and their families cope with long-term stays at the hospital, but there is currently no garden or outside space for them to use.
Parents and carers are often trying to cope with their child being ill, while simultaneously looking after their siblings, thinking about how to keep their job or run their family home while also staying at the hospital, sometimes far from where they live. This means that having a quiet space can be invaluable, providing a much needed place to pause and think, when needing to make difficult decisions or simply having time to reflect.
At the moment families have to go to one of London’s parks to access the benefits of green space, but many don’t want to leave the hospital site or their child’s side. Things can change for our young patients in a single moment, so even a five minute walk away from the hospital feels just too far.
Everyone in the hospital community is so excited about having this amazing garden, beautifully designed by Chris Beardshaw, which will occupy a currently unused rooftop space. The garden will be providing a peaceful space for families to sit and be reflective, just metres away from their children. It will also be a space that fellow clinicians can go to sit and talk privately with parents about their child’s care away from the busy wards and noisy machines.
There is more and more evidence to suggest that spending time in green spaces has tangible health benefits, for our physical and mental health.
We are extremely grateful for this amazing garden, which will make a real difference for families of children in our care. We would like to thank everyone at Morgan Stanley for their commitment to the hospital and their generous ongoing support and Chris Beardshaw for designing such a special place for future generations of patients and families to benefit from.
Read more about Morgan Stanley's Chelsea Flower Show garden.