A new rehabilitation and sensory healing garden for critically ill patients has officially been opened at the Royal Cornwall Hospital by leading explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison OBE.  

The new Critical Care Healing Garden has been filled with sensory plants, two outdoor hospital bed spaces, a rehabilitation bridge, peaceful seating areas for families, carers and staff, and beautiful bird sculptures made from Cornwall granite and bronze, donated by Cornish artist, Kurt Jackson. 

It is located immediately below the critical care unit at the hospital in Truro. 

The serene courtyard space is also one of the first therapeutic gardens in the country to have medical gases directly piped into a dedicated outdoor space. This enables patients to spend as much time as they are able experiencing the healing powers of the natural environment.  

The design, creation and installation of the garden has been funded entirely by charitable donation, greatly assisted by Robin and his wife.

Cornwall-based Robin, founder of Survival International, believes that the healing garden at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital saved his life after he contracted covid-19 and vowed to encourage all acute hospitals in the UK to create critical care gardens. 

“My wife, Louella, and I are absolutely delighted to see this wonderful Critical Care Healing Garden officially opened,” said Robin. 

“It’s been three years since we started on the journey to create this oasis of calm and tranquility, and I hope that many critically ill patients here at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, together with their outstanding team of healthcare professionals and carers, will benefit from the healing and rehabilitation powers of the great outdoors for years to come. It has been a tremendous team effort and I want to thank all the RCHT staff and contractors who have been involved with the project, as well as the army of donors, supporters and volunteers whose generosity, knowledge and kindness have made it possible.”

Kym Vigus, RCHT critical care staff nurse, has also long campaigned to create a healing garden at the Royal Cornwall Hospital. 

“This garden is a huge asset to our unit,” said Kym. “For clinical teams to be able to bring patients down to the courtyard to feel the fresh air and see the sky, to smell the plants and hear birdsong, is very special. 

“It will generate incredibly positive experiences for our patients as part of their individual pathways to recovery.”   

The design for the garden was created by local landscape design company, Lavigne Lonsdale, who were inspired to create a stunning yet practical garden following consultation with staff and ex-patients.  

Cornish civil engineering contractor Cormac Ltd, together with South West Surfacing Specialists Ltd built the garden with local materials and meticulous attention to detail, whilst expert Cornwall-based gardeners Alasdair Moore from Heligan, Charles Fox from Glendurgan and Mark Holman, the palace gardener, came together to design the planting scheme, rich in vibrant colours and textures.