"Gardens can be healing and restful places, surely an easy place to start?"

About: The Townsville Hospital

(as a parent/guardian),

My adult child was admitted to the acute mental health unit (Townsville Hospital) after experiencing a paranoid psychotic episode. The vast majority of the staff were excellent - friendly, helpful, keeping me informed of progress, encouraging visits etc. The approach of the doctors was very skilled, calm and patient.

The issue however was the environment. I understand there are restrictions, however the layout of the building was poor, the rooms felt like prison cells and there was nowhere comfortable and relaxing to sit with my child without a TV blaring. The 'garden' was a grassed area with little grass and an old concrete table and bench and the odd shrub - I did not enjoy sitting on the earth which was my only option.

I am sure there are psychiatric hospitals around the world we can learn from, to make a healing rather than a harmful environment both for staff (who are there day in and day out) and the patients.

Try comparing the area described above with the children's area... beautiful new equipment, green, pleasant... but this was my adult child and the whole period was the worst of my life - and a nicer environment would have helped.

Gardens can be healing and restful places, surely an easy place to start?

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Responses

Response from Julie Shepherd, Nurse Manager Patient Experience, Patient Services; Clinical Governance Directorate, Townsvillle Hospital and Health Services We are preparing to make a change

Dear the good the bad and the ugly,

Thank you for sharing your story with us, your feedback is really important for us to learn what we do well and how we could do things better at our health service.

I understand this must have been a really stressful and worrying time for you as a parent and acknowledge that, no matter what age your child is – they are still your child.

I am glad your experience with our hard-working staff was excellent and am pleased that you found our medical staff calm and patient – I am sure this must have given you some comfort during your hospital experience.

I am also grateful for your feedback in regards to how you found the unit’s environment. I am sorry you found the settings unpleasant and please know that I will alert the Service Group Director of Mental Health of your story and ask how we might endeavour to achieve a more therapeutic environment for those who wish to seek a place of solace and comfort.

I am committed to using this information to help improve patient experiences and receiving feedback like yours is very helpful.

Once again, I thank you for sharing your story and I wish you all the very best for you and your child’s future.

With kind regards,

Julie Shepherd

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Response from Julie Shepherd, Nurse Manager Patient Experience, Patient Services; Clinical Governance Directorate, Townsvillle Hospital and Health Services We have made a change

Dear the good the bad and the ugly,

Just by way of an update to let you know, that our staff in commercial services were informed of your feedback and are now in the process of developing some garden beds around the outdoor seating areas.

The garden team state they are consulting with the mental health team and are reviewing the gardens and planting options to improve the feeling and general atmosphere of the area.

The commercial services team stated " a great idea from the consumer concerned".

So thank you again, the good the bad and the ugly, for your feedback, as it is leading to a change that will benefit the patients in our acute mental health unit.

With kind regards,

Julie Shepherd

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