Indoor garden opens at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital


Sky Garden designed by Jinny Blom to support physical and psychological needs of intensive care patients

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its charity, CW+, have unveiled a new indoor botanical Sky Garden, designed by award-winning landscape designer and artist in residence, Jinny Blom.

The Sky Garden at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital will bring the outdoors inside, supporting the cognitive function, wellbeing, and rehabilitation of intensive care patients.

CW+ aims to improve the patient environment and experience and research has shown that incorporating elements of nature into healthcare environments can improve healing.

The Sky Garden is part of the redevelopment and expansion of the recently-opened Adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on the top floor of the hospital, and has been installed adjacent to the ICU, with Blom creating a transformative experience for patients and staff.

A former psychologist and psychotherapist, Blom knows only too well the benefits of biophilia in healthcare and the impact of nature, plants, and landscape on patient recovery and wellness.

Developed through consultation and design workshops with former patients and ICU staff, her idea was to create a space with multiple zones responding to the many differing needs of the ICU.

As a result, one side of the garden is more active, with a physiotherapy ramp for recovering patients; but there is also a sociable space for conversations.

Blom has also incorporated sleep pods, which were funded by NHS Charities Together and are in a quiet corner of the garden for medical staff who need to work long hours caring for patients with complex needs.

And there is a quiet zone where a patient can be brought on their bed to spend private time with family.

The design of the garden takes its cue from Modernist architecture.

The garden is very-low toxin in its makeup as it is principally timber.

Furniture has been designed with a calming colour palette and uses soft-to-touch, yet hard-wearing lino, another natural product made of flax.

The tree canopy will shade the garden from its bright natural light, and the plants within the garden have been chosen for their suitability to the demanding environment and will be cared for organically, without chemicals or pesticides.

Blom, who also created a Greenhaven Garden at the rear of the hospital several years ago, said: “Gardens, quite simply, improve our lives.

“To go and sit among plants and nature, especially in the context of a bustling hospital, has an immediate positive impact on stress levels.

The Sky Garden will provide an irreplaceable source of respite to those in need.”

Trystan Hawkins, director of patient environment at CW+, adds: “There is a wealth of research which demonstrates how natural environments have a real impact on patient’s wellbeing, recovery, and mood.

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“Many of our patients, especially in ICU, are unable to leave the hospital, often for prolonged lengths of time, so having this space of tranquillity and nature will be invaluable”.