Therapeutic gardening group launches for men with life-threatening conditions

Categories: Care.

A new group called ‘Men’s Space’ started last week (24 April) in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK. The group will meet each Thursday in the gardens of St Richard’s Hospice in Worcester.

Members will have the opportunity to help create and maintain the garden as well relax and speak to others in similar situations to themselves.

A therapeutic gardener will be on hand to guide men with little or no experience of gardening and will also help experienced ‘green fingered’ men develop their skills.

“Sometimes in the midst of hospital appointments, health concerns and treatments, men may feel they need some time out, some space,” explained Vanessa Gibson, who leads the St Richard’s community nursing team.

“This group offers the chance to take some time out in the gardens at St Richard’s to relax, share experiences, talk to a specialist nurse or doctor and, if they wish, use some of our other services. We support patients at all stages of illness, including those newly diagnosed with incurable conditions.”

“The men can be as active or as inactive as they want! There are no forced activities or group discussions – it’s a chance for them to come and meet others a similar situation,” she added.

St Richard’s Hospice volunteer gardeners will be on hand to give any help and guidance whether on planting hanging baskets, digging raised beds or cultivating the small cottage garden.  

And Vanessa said that sitting back and watching is perfectly acceptable too: “If the men would rather sit and watch others garden we can supply tea, coffee and people to talk to.”

Group members can be given support from other St Richard’s services if they think they will be helpful, including benefits advice, counselling, complementary therapies and time with specialist doctors and nurses.

Louise Jackson, Community Support Services Manager for Prostate Cancer UK, says that 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK, with some having to face the prospect that their cancer may never be cured. 

“Gardening, being outside and sharing experiences with others who can relate to what you’re going through can be a tremendous comfort to many and we’re thrilled to be launching the new group with St Richard’s Hospice,” she added. ” We look forward to welcoming men keen to develop their gardening skills as well as those just looking to relax and enjoy a beautiful garden.”

To join the Men’s Space group the person must have a confirmed life-threatening diagnosis, a South Worcestershire GP and be referred to St Richard’s Hospice.  Anyone can refer to the group, including patients themselves, and hospice staff will liaise with the patient’s GP.

But the men are not the only new arrivals in the garden …

Two ducks and around 20 fluffy ducklings have made their home in a central courtyard at the hospice where they are protected from predators (see cute pics above!) Staff feed the ducks, Daisy and Gemima, each day and the ducklings have their own water feature for splashing around.

Hospice facilities manager Louise Clive said: “For about the last four years the ducks have flown from our big pond in the garden, over the inpatient unit roof and hatched their eggs in the central courtyard which is walled on all sides.”

She added, “Our ducks and ducklings are loved by our patients who can look out of their bedroom windows onto the lake and watch their antics. They are a small part of what makes St Richard’s a very special place.”

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