Albany Prison Hospice

SOLARDOME Retreat - Enhancing the healing environment - Albany Prison Hospice, IOWSolardome® glasshouse brings tranquillity to end of life care.

A Solardome® glasshouse forms a pivotal part of an ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment’ project to improve the end of life care facilities for hospice patients at HM Prison on the Isle of Wight.

Initiated by nurses at the inpatient healthcare unit of the Albany site and funded by the King’s Fund, a competition was held for the prisoners to design a tranquil garden. The entries were delivered to Eccleston George, a local team of artists, who converted the ideas into a project plan and approached Solardome Industries to produce a bespoke SOLARDOME® Retreat (6.11m) as the centrepiece of the garden. The artists worked closely with the gardeners and prisoners to produce the garden, which was officially opened in August 2010.

Nigel George, Team Leader of Eccleston George, commented:

“The inclusion of the Solardome® glasshouse blended in with our circular garden designs perfectly and presented us with an opportunity to pursue our interest in geodesic structures.  Working with Solardome Industries felt a lot like collaborating with another artist as they were able to creatively meet our challenging design goals cost-effectively.  I see the Solardome® glasshouse primarily as the sculptural centrepiece of the garden, but the added benefit is that it acts as a covered, useable space which users can relax in. The highly coloured glass in the roof section which has been created with a specialist vinyl film creates a calm, watery feel.”

He continued, “The project has been challenging physically and emotionally due to working in the prison environment however, it has also been very exciting to work on something that makes a real difference to end of life patients and their families.”

Mick Hunton, Prison Project Team Leader, commented:

“The dome sculpture allows for protection from the weather and peace and quiet from other users in their own space, while still being part of the whole garden. It was purposefully built without glass in the lower section to allow for prison security but also to blend in with the garden to enable users to see past the central dome into other areas of interest.

“The multiple entrance ways and multi-coloured panels invite patients to enter and sit on the camomile seat under the olive tree. Here they can look out onto the many areas of interest within the garden, creating a feeling of peace and tranquillity.”

Further developments will enable the inpatient healthcare unit to look after patients in an environment that they are relaxed in with the appropriate nursing care, with the added enhancement of being able to have access to a quiet garden area to talk to relatives and friends or just to reflect.  Artistic, yet practical, the project enables patients to move freely from indoors to outdoors and is fully accessible by the disabled or those confined to bed.

Prisoner involvement was key to the success of the project, and some comments include:

“The aspect of doing something new and different to help others was good.”

“I felt brilliant using my bricklaying skills in a different way providing a good thing for others.”

Launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2000, the Enhancing the Healing Environment programme initially focused on improving acute hospital environments, before being extended to mental health and primary care settings.

By the end of 2010 over 200 teams from acute, mental health and community hospital, hospices and HM prisons will have participated in the programme.

The impact of the Enhancing the Healing Environment programme extends beyond the improvement of physical environments, bringing benefits such as the personal development of team members, innovative new approaches to patient involvement and the fostering of closer links with local communities.  The principal aims are to improve the quality of care for those approaching the end of their life and to give them greater choice about where they die.


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