THE Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor John Leather, has opened a new Health and Wellbeing Garden for Countess of Chester Hospital staff.
The new garden has been designed for doctors, nurses, physios, pharmacists, porters and all other hospital staff to use for rest and relaxation in all weathers, with raised planting areas, covered seating spaces and decorative artwork celebrating the NHS’ impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has been made possible by grants awarded to the Countess Charity by NHS Charities Together and the Bank of America.
The Lord Mayor, who opened the garden by planting the Nye Bevan rose, said: “This peaceful garden will benefit all staff who need a break from the pressure of work. It will give them space in which to rest and relax during a busy shift. The Nye Bevan Rose is described by its breeder as uplifting; this is the character of the whole garden. I am sure that many hospital workers will appreciate and treasure this.”
There are several gardens located throughout the Countess of Chester Hospital site for patients, staff and visitors to use, but this is the only outdoor space specifically designated for hospital employees.
In a survey to all hospital teams, asking what improvements would make the biggest difference to them, the creation of a facility to rest and enjoy on breaks was the most popular option.
Ian Haythornthwaite, chair of the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I would like to thank the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress for helping us to open this special Wellbeing Garden. Our teams worked tirelessly during the pandemic and continue to perform admirably in the face of significant challenges.
“Giving them a comfortable environment to have a break and eat some lunch is something that will hopefully make a huge difference and I am delighted that we have been able to fulfil their wishes by creating this garden.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS Charities Together co-ordinated donations from fundraisers all over the country for the NHS, including Captain Tom Moore, Joe Wicks, Premier League footballers and thousands of others across the UK.
NHS Charities Together then collaborated with a network of over 230 NHS charities to share the funds, creating projects to support NHS staff, patients and volunteers across the UK. It was through one of these grants, applied for by the Countess Charity, that the garden was able to happen.
Ellie Orton OBE, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “We know how important it is that NHS staff have a place to rest during a busy shift. The pandemic exacerbated every challenge facing the health service and showed just how much pressure staff are under, but those pressures haven’t gone away – which is why spaces like this remain so vital.
"We hope the new wellbeing garden at the Countess of Chester Hospital will provide a welcome sanctuary for all workers, and that they will continue to enjoy it for many years to come. A huge thank you to everyone who made the project possible.”
Once it was decided that an outdoor space was the best option for staff at the Countess a further grant from Bank of America was then used to add further home comforts.
Members of staff nominated by colleagues for going the extra mile during the pandemic were also invited to attend the garden’s opening ceremony.
Lesley Woodhead, head of fundraising at the Countess Charity, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to NHS Charities Together and Bank of America for working in partnership with the Countess Charity to create this new outdoor space for staff at the Countess. Having an area away from the busy hospital to take a few minutes of peace will really make a difference.”