New terrace garden opened for Intensive Care Unit patients

A group of Intensive Care Unit staff, former patients and senior staff gathered in the terrace garden with colourful bunting

North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) has opened a new garden for its Intensive Care patients, funded by generous donations to Southmead Hospital Charity, and amazing fundraising efforts by staff members and former patients of the ICU.

The garden is located in the Brunel building at Southmead Hospital, just off a corridor within the unit itself, making it safe and easy for patients and relatives to access the garden whilst remaining very close to the specialist intensive care staff and equipment they require.

Among those in attendance of the official opening were NBT’s Chief Executive, Maria Kane, former Chief Executive, Andrea Young, ICU Consultants, Gareth Wrathall and Jas Soar, and the divisional Clinical Director, Reston Smith, alongside other ICU staff and patients of the unit, both current and returning.

One former patient of the unit, Kevin Loud, said: “The staff here really do go above and beyond. While I was a patient here on the unit, the team helped me and my family so much by taking us downstairs to get outside, but we always worried how labour intensive that was for the staff, and how far we were away from the unit should anything happen. This space will now allow patients and their families to easily get outside, whilst still being as close to the equipment and staff as they would be in any other room within the unit.

“Thank you will never be enough, and any money I can raise will never be enough, but I have tried in some small way to offer something back, through running the Bristol 10k and other fundraising events for Southmead Hospital Charity to support this garden, both for future patients and the staff who work here, to say thank you for giving us another chance.

“The benefits this will give patients to get some air, because rightly so the hospital is very sterile, but when you are at a stage when you are moving towards recovery, seeing the sky and flowers out here is a great boost, and can’t be underestimated. It feels like experiencing real life again, but knowing that you are safe at the same time.”

Kevin’s wife, Sam, who also works at NBT as a Senior Research Nurse, added: “The ICU held a few groups with former patients and relatives to ask us what would have been helpful during the time we had to spend here, and we all said how important it was to be able to go outside. Whilst Kev was on the unit, Ben Walton, one of the consultants here, took him outside on Christmas Day to facetime me so that he could watch his children open their Christmas presents, which meant so much to us. So we knew this garden would be magical, and I really think it can help relatives as well as patients, who can come out here for some air knowing they aren’t far away from their loved ones.”