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Volunteers' kindness brings Intensive Care Unit garden to life


Patients in the John Radcliffe Hospital Intensive Care Unit, and their families, can now enjoy a beautifully refurbished garden, to help them through what can be a very anxious time.

The unit has always been fortunate to have direct access to the outdoors, but at the end of 2018 the area was overgrown and needing attention.

This mattered, because taking patients outdoors is an important part of their recovery, and an outside space is also vital for busy staff to enjoy their lunch breaks and teaching time.

Over four gardening sessions during the spring and summer of 2019, Physiotherapist Liz King and around 40 staff and their families volunteered to spend their free time planting, painting garden furniture and cutting back overgrown plants.

They were fortunate with the weather, and many ice creams were enjoyed!

The garden project was generously supported by the JR League of Friends, a local gardener and a local stately home who donated some plants. The unit also received the generous donation of some astro turf from UBS Sports.

Jasmine, Deputy Sister, Adult Critical Care, said:

"I have really enjoyed being part of the gardening team on AICU. It has been so much fun working alongside colleagues in a more informal way, but still knowing that it will improve patient and relative experiences on the unit.

"I have been amazed with the generosity of those that have given their time and donations for the garden itself. I'm looking forward to the next phase, and the enjoyment that will come from having a useable outdoor space."

Lyn Bennett, Matron, Adult Critical Care, said:

"I am immensely proud of the staff involved here from all disciplines led by Liz King. They have seen a way to improve the environment for our patients and their families and acted on it using their own initiative, resourcefulness and time.

"The appearance and view makes such a difference for those who are in this clinical environment. Thank you."

Scott Milne's story

"On 17 October 2012 our second (of three) daughters, Alexia Grace Issa (Lexi) was born at the John Radcliffe. Within minutes of hearing her first scream, our lives were turned upside down when we were told that she was recording a high white blood cell count with suspected Meningitis.

"Within 24 hours Lexi was undergoing a lumber puncture and four hourly treatments. A two-week residential care plan was put together to give her the best care possible. And that's what happened. Literally the best care we could have hoped for.

"Charli and I promised each other that we would give back for the care that was given to not just Lexi, but Charli and the rest of the family.

"Six and a half years later, a message from Matt Hillis, an old friend and neighbour from Marcham, asking if I could help with an initiative from the AICU Team. We jumped at the chance [to donate some astro turf to contribute to the outdoor area].

"To offer just a few moments of sunshine or fresh air, or even to provide a space to begin rehabilitation after a life-changing experience is what makes our NHS unrivalled in the world today."

Pictured: Members of the multidisciplinary team with UBS Sports, creating a beautiful space for all to enjoy