No lawnmower required – but a hoover might do

Claire, left and Kirra, right, demonstrating the carbon monoxide tester
Claire, left and Kirra, right, demonstrating the carbon monoxide tester

The Heath Clinic at the Bracton Centre has been completely refurbished including a new garden with an immaculate lawn that will remain forever close cut. The transformation was celebrated by residents and staff at an open day held last week.

Staff and residents of Heath Clinic in the new garden
Staff and residents of Heath Clinic in the new garden

Both staff and the 16 residents at the low secure unit for women with challenging behaviour gave the makeover a definite thumbs up. Senior Support Worker Lorraie Brend said: "The refurbishment took a year to complete and involved knocking down walls, creating new rooms and an entirely new garden. It was challenging for both our residents and staff - we had to temporarily close one corridor so many of the women had to share a room for a while. But we now have a new activity room, a sensory room and a refitted kitchen. The whole process was service user led as the women were involved from the start, choosing colour schemes, furniture and helping to plan and plant the garden, for instance. I've been here for 10 years and I think it's now a much nicer place to work. It feels calmer and that's good for staff and residents."

A sumptuous lunch was laid on and people were able to visit stalls manned by Kirra and Claire. Kirra was encouraging people to blow down a carbon monoxide tester to advertise the unit's smoking cessation ‘Fresh Air' group that meets every Friday. Claire had many hats on as she dispensed information on their community action plan, new welcome pack, meal plan project and philosophy of care. She was in no doubt that the upheaval had been worth it: "It's brilliant, particularly the sensory room. It used to be dull here - a bit masculine - but now it's brighter and more female." For Kirra, the star of the show was the new garden: "It was a mess, but now it's beautiful. We love it."

The garden is truly a wonder to behold, with sweeping paths, raised beds and an emerald lawn that would grace any bowling club. And the best bit about it is that there will never be any weeds or worm casts and it will never need mowing - it's Astroturf.

Published on 1st July 2013