20 May 2022

Mill Lane Surgery’s Health and Wellbeing Garden

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Thanks to support received from NHS Lothian Charity, Mill Lane Surgery has been able to create a small garden of raised beds in the surgery car park for both patients and staff to enjoy.

The Surgery applied to our Small Grants fund to create a small garden with raised beds and one or two fruit trees. The paved area outside the surgery is now a more inviting space where patients can wait for appointments or prescriptions, or where patients and staff can come together in an informal way (and at a correct social distance) to enjoy the outdoors.

Dr Rachel Harrison, who applied for the funding, said:

“With so many of our patients spending time waiting in our car park this past year due to COVID, we wanted to make it a more interesting and attractive space.

“Several employees in the surgery are keen gardeners and I personally have an interest in gardening and mental health. I envisage volunteering 2 hours per week of my free time to coordinate a garden project and we are hoping to run a gardening drop-in session on the first Tuesday of every month for anyone who would like to join in.

“We are growing vegetables, herbs and edible flowers in our ‘Green Corner’ and, once established, everyone will be welcome to help themselves to a little of whatever is growing.

“I know from personal experience how much of a benefit people can get from spending time in nature. This is a space that both patients and staff can enjoy. They can plant something or pick something or just sit on the outside bench and enjoy the nature around them. I am so touched by how the team has pulled together to support the green project and it has made it really exciting.

“I hadn’t known about the support available through Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation and I was delighted when one of the practice nurses brought it to my attention. This has really helped us do more.”

Owen Siddalls, who manages our Small Grants programme, said:

“NHS Lothian Charity was delighted to support Mill Lane Surgery with their project, not just through funding but we also included our Green Health Programme Manager in application discussions to ensure the surgery could achieve everything they wanted to with the space. This is a great way to get patients and staff connecting with nature.”

Mill Lane Surgery is also one of the GP practices that is participating in the Nature Prescriptions Edinburgh project that was developed by RSPB Scotland in collaboration with Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation and five local GP Practices across the region.

RSPB Scotland developed Nature Prescriptions with Shetland GPs in 2017 inspired by growing evidence that connecting with nature makes us healthier and happier. RSPB Scotland, NHS Lothian and Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation are now working with 5 GP Practices across Edinburgh to prescribe nature for some patients. Patients are given support to connect with nature as part of their treatment, not just to go for walks but to connect with nature in a way they perhaps hadn’t considered before. RSPB have also provided some great resources to support with monthly calendars of what to look out for and some ideas of how to connect.

These connections with nature help reduce stress and anxiety levels at times when these are particularly high. To find out more about the nature prescriptions project, watch the short video below:

Community healthcare worker talking to a patient in their home

How would you use Small Grant Funding to improve patient experiences?