MPFT nurses publish research on gardening as therapy within a care home setting page thumbnail

The Covid-19 pandemic required innovative strategies to enhance the wellbeing of care home residents. Anna Redpath, an advanced nurse practitioner, and Carolyn Fleurat, a district nurse from MPFT, developed a pilot project which utilised gardening as therapy to improve health and wellbeing in a care home setting. Their project illustrates the profound impact of creative therapeutic interventions and provides valuable insights for future healthcare practices.

The Green Wellbeing Project – An MPFT Research Case Study

Background and Specific Aims

In response to challenges faced by care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, two registered nurses initiated the Green Wellbeing Project to redesign care services with a focus on mental health, wellbeing, and sustainability. The specific aims were to improve resident engagement and wellbeing through gardening therapy, provide informal healthcare, and educate and support care staff. The project aligned with the NHS Green Plan objectives.

What we did

The registered nurses secured funding from the Queen's Nursing Institute and implemented a 6-week pilot program in four Midlands care homes. Five to six isolated residents were selected from each home to participate in indoor and outdoor gardening activities. The project provided continuity of care, early identification of deterioration, and a non-pharmacological approach. It collaborated with community partners and incorporated learning opportunities for students and staff. The projects improved access to green space to improve mental health.

Demonstrated changes introduced against each sustainable healthcare principle: prevention of the need for healthcare, pharmaceuticals; empowering patients to manage their own health; lean service delivery via reduced waste, increased flow, introduced standard work; low-carbon alternatives via gardening therapy.

Outcome highlights/method

Pre- and post-evaluations, including wellbeing scores and case reports, were conducted to measure the impact of the gardening therapy intervention. These evaluations revealed strengthened relationships between care staff and health workers, fostering a collaborative environment. The case reports highlighted several valuable health interventions for participating residents, such as improvements in skin care, reduced risk of falls, restored confidence, and increased engagement. Overall, the outcomes indicated enhanced mental health, early identification of health deterioration, reduced reliance on medication, and greater community involvement, demonstrating the efficacy of the project in promoting resident wellbeing.

Lessons learnt

The project highlighted the importance of continuity of care from the same healthcare professional for effective and efficient delivery. It led to a review of current services to improve continuity in care homes by implementing a lead clinician. The reflection also emphasised the potential of gardening therapy and a holistic approach to reduce healthcare costs through prevention and early intervention.

Next Steps

The remaining funds enabled an additional session around Christmas. Care homes have continued project activities with the support of coordinators and donated equipment. The health-led support is being redesigned with health coaches and GP partners. Funding is being explored with the local authority for a community-based initiative in collaboration with voluntary, community and social enterprise partners. The project serves as a model for sustainable and person-centred healthcare transformation.

Visit the article by Anna Redpath and Carolyn Fleurat titled ‘Reflections on the QNI gardening project within care homes’ in the Journal of Community Nursing (p. 61) here.

How the Research and Innovation Department can support Health and Social Care colleagues with research projects

The Research and Innovation Department at Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust can play a crucial role in supporting colleagues to write up their clinical experiences for publication by:

  • Providing Templates and Examples: Sharing structured templates and examples, such as the Green Wellbeing Project case study, to guide the writing process.
  • Offering Workshops and Training: through the STARS Programme and FutureLearn course: Conducting workshops and training sessions on research writing, data collection and analysis.
  • Facilitating Peer Review: Organising peer review sessions to provide feedback and improve the quality of the write-ups.
  • Grant and Funding Assistance: Helping secure funding for research projects and pilot programs through grant writing support.
  • Collaborative Opportunities: Encouraging collaboration with community partners, universities, and other healthcare providers to enhance research quality and impact.
  • Publication Support: Assisting with the submission process to journals, including formatting, referencing, and addressing reviewer comments.
  • Research Governance and Study Set Up: The Research Support Team provides advice and support in all aspects of research governance, ethics and study set up
  • Supporting Evaluation and Research Activities: Developing capacity and expertise among staff to promote evaluation and research activities and providing support to staff so they can manage their own projects

By utilising these support mechanisms, the Research and Innovation Department can help health and social care professionals effectively document and share their valuable professional experiences, contributing to the advancement of health and social care knowledge and practices.

For more information about the MPFT Research and Innovation Department please visit our X page here, explore the rest of our website or contact us by email

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