Western Isles Hospital

Enhancing the health and wellbeing of dementia patients.

SOLARDOME Haven at the Dementia Sensory Garden at the Western Isles HospitalDementia patients on the Clisham Ward at the Western Isles Hospital at Stornoway now have improved access to the outside world and a greater degree of independence, thanks to a special sensory garden created to improve their health and wellbeing.

Enabling them to wander at their leisure and enjoy the fresh air, the sensory garden is designed with a curricular footpath encompassing various features which enable the patients to remember and reflect on aspects of their past which they have a clear memory of.

At its hub is a SOLARDOME® Haven (4.5m) which acts as a warm, safe and quiet retreat, affording patients views of the wild flower meadow and shoreline dotted with lobster pots. Its circular design with curved benches allows for a closer social interaction amongst the patients and their carers.

Robert Stubbington, the Landscape Architect for the Western Isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar), responsible for delivering the project said, “We chose the Solardome® glasshouse because of its ability to be a unique focal point and because it is well known in the Western Islands for its strength and longevity in the most extreme weather conditions. We intend to fill the dome with interesting plants and pipe in familiar sounds, such as grass being mown and skylark and corncrake calling. This will help to remind patients of the crofter lifestyle and stimulate happy memories of being close to nature.” He added: “Our vision was to create a peaceful, tranquil environment for patients who are used to a natural way of life and who benefit from having access to natural light. There has been a great deal of praise for the project from carers, patients and their families.”

Officially opening the garden, Chair of the NHS Western Isles, John Angus Mckay commented:

“The garden is a significant development, not only for the NHS Western Isles but for the local community. It will ensure that elderly patients in Clisham have access to the outside world, and a greater degree of independence. The transformation here is breathtaking.”

Care homes and hospitals are being encouraged to take advantage of the outdoor environment in the shape of a garden, as most patients are confined to an indoor stale air environment. The idea is for patients to take in the fresh air and exercise in a designed landscape which reduces the amount of medication needed to give a feeling of wellbeing to the patients.


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