IT is very much a case of ‘gardens for all’ at a Cornish community hospital, after an accessible gardening area for patients was created.

Created with the help of students and powered by the generosity of local businesses, who helped provide materials to create the accessible garden area, patients at Bodmin Community Hospital, located on the site of the former St Lawrence’s Mental Hospital on the outskirts of the town, including those with limited mobility will now be able to join in with the maintenance of the garden.

As well as providing an area to engage in gardening, it is also an area to relax or pass the time during their stay.

The idea behind the creation of an accessible garden came after an incident where a patient in a wheelchair was taken out to the garden to do some planting. However, it quickly transpired that due to the patient being in the aforementioned wheelchair, they were unable to reach the planter they wished to use.

Jayne Parkin, a meaningful activities co-ordinator at the Bodmin Community Assessment Treatment Unit (CATU), is a member of hospital staff who likes to get patients involved in the garden area and had taken the patient in the wheelchair out to the garden.

A Community Assessment Treatment Unit (CATUs) is a unit which was created as part of efforts to reduce demand on the emergency department at major hospitals such as the Royal Cornwall Hospital, in Truro.

They were established as part of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly COVID-19 response to divert frail, older patients from attending Emergency Departments ED and treat them closer to their homes.

The units aim to provide safe alternative care for older people, closer to home by ensuring healthcare professionals have an alternative referral route and the community has all it needs to support people in place; offering a rapid diagnosis and assessment process and bedded care where needed to reduce cumulative length of stay and onward debility.

The newly installed accessible garden features new, raised planters, with the intention of being as equally open and accessible to those with limited mobility needs as it is anyone else.

Bodmin College students helped with the new accessible garden, designing and making the planting areas, with the materials to create the planters donated by generous local businesses.

The college had been approached to get involved at the Bodmin Community Assessment Treatment Unit, and the opportunity to help the hospital to make the new, accessible garden a reality was welcomed by the school.

Students were provided with the necessary materials to create the planters, which included wood and compost, donated to the project by RGB Building Supplies and Bond Timber.

Yaz Andrews, a ward manager at the Community Assessment Treatment Unit, praised the efforts of the students and local businesses, hailing it as a community effort.

She said: “It is absolutely fantastic. It’s wonderful that as a community we have come together to create these areas for patients to enjoy.”

The students were assisted by their construction teacher at Bodmin College, Hannah Stephens. She described how the college was invited to get involved and praised the students who made the plan a reality.

She said: “The Bodmin Community Assessment Treatment Unit (CATU) needed something which was accessible so that all patients could use it. Our sixth form team came up with a template to use and it is nice to see that they are proud of their own work.

“They are creative kids, and they went straight for it.”

The plans which led to the accessible garden were executed by three students at the college. Axel, Emily and Toby worked on the project and were given thanks by the staff at the community assessment unit for their hard work making it a reality.

Axel said: “The planters took us about 2 months (to make). It was something really nice to do. It feels really good that we’re doing something for people that are not well enough to do something. They have got something to do while they’re here, so they’re not just sat in a room bored.”

Emily, a construction student, added: “I think anyone would agree, doing something for an actual cause is the best thing to do. It’s good to know this could help people’s mental health, and people just in general wanting to get out and do some planting. It’s accessible for everyone at all times. It was very rewarding.”

Peter Derry, a sales representative for RGB Building Supplies, supplied the wood for the project, said: “We were happy to donate any materials we could to support. RGB are always at the heart of the community, and we try to support organisations where we can. Bodmin Hospital is very close to my heart. My father was in Garner Ward. I’ve experienced the hospital and wonderful things it does.”