Quarter of psychiatric patients do not have access to a hospital garden

A quarter of inpatient psychiatric patients do not have access to a hospital garden, research reveals.

And some patients have said they have been banned from using hospital gardens as a form of punishment, says the report by the mental health charity Mind.

A Mind survey of 199 patients found that nearly a third of patients (29%) who had recently stayed in mental health wards were dissatisfied with their ward’s state of repair. And 28% were unhappy about ward cleanliness, and 26% do not have access to a hospital garden.

Last year the Healthcare Commission found standards of cleanliness are markedly poorer in mental health hospitals compared to acute hospitals.

Mind’s report, entitled Building Solutions: Improving Mental Healthcare Environment, argues that good ward design is crucial in providing a therapeutic environment. As does proper access to gardens and green spaces.

NHS Estates guidelines of 1996 recommend that patients have access to open spaces to help prevent behaviour problems. Yet Mind’s research found access to gardens was being used in some wards as a reward for good behaviour, and denied as a punishment.

“Punishment should have no place in a hospital,” read the report.

Mind recommends that all psychiatric patients have access to green spaces.

The charity’s chief executive, Paul Farmer, said: “Going into hospital with mental health problems can be very traumatic. We rely on hospitals to help us get well, but at the moment many are not providing a therapeutic environment.”

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