Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has been selected to take part in an innovative national project designed to make it easier for inpatients to enjoy time outdoors by increasing their access to green spaces.
The Trust has been named as one of eight Green Beacon Sites who will take part in the Green Walking Project, which is being spearheaded by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
It will see NSFT staff work with CSH to set up a green walking group, initially for people receiving inpatient care at Hellesdon Hospital. As well as giving patients the chance to take part in physical activity and enjoy time away from the ward, it is hoped that additional activities – such as photography or other arts or carrying out nature studies – will be incorporated into the walks to bring even more benefits.
After the group launches in May, staff and patients will give feedback to help create a "Green Walking Guide", which will summarise the experience of those who have taken part with the aim of helping professionals from elsewhere in the country to start new groups within their wards.
Kerri Norfolk, Clinical Team Leader for Wellbeing and Therapies with NSFT's Central Norfolk Acute Inpatient team, said: "We are really pleased that NSFT has been selected as one of the Green Beacon Sites taking part in this exciting project. It will give us a real opportunity to look at how we use green spaces with our inpatients, as well as helping to evidence the positive impact which engaging with the outdoors has on mental health.
"It will also give us the chance to get creative in the green spaces around Hellesdon Hospital. We've been doing a lot of work recently to help bring the outside in and make best use of the countryside, including a recent photography project on Glaven Ward, and this initiative will help us to build on that further.
"It is also a great opportunity for us to share good practice with other trusts while encouraging others to make the most of the great outdoors and help find new opportunities for their patients to engage in meaningful activities away from the wards."
Dr Jacob Krzanowski, Project Co-ordinator for the CSH, said: "'At its core, The Green Walking Project seeks to promote greater access to natural spaces for those of us receiving treatment for their mental health in hospital. It is based on a growing evidence base which supports longstanding intuitions that time spent in natural spaces is beneficial.
"With many hospital sites having green areas relatively close to wards, it is our hope that such spaces will be more readily integrated into regular care. We are, therefore, touched and encouraged by the commitment expressed by each of our Green Beacon Site Trusts. We very much look forward to working closely with Glaven Ward in the months to come with the hope of sharing the experience to support future similar work."
The project has been funded by the Network for Social Change. For more information, visit nsft.uk/greenwalking
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