St Luke’s opens exercise gardens for its patients

Patients at St Luke’s Hospital have a new open space in which to exercise and relax, following the official opening of gardens at the hospital last week.

Patients at St Luke’s Hospital have a new open space in which to exercise and relax, following the official opening of gardens at the hospital last week.

In one of his final engagements at the end of a busy year in office, then Mayor of Kilkenny David Fitzgerald visited the Department of Psychiatry at St Luke’s to see the gardens and launch a new outdoor exercise initiative.

The Department of Psychiatry facility has developed the two garden areas with the support of the Mental Health Association, together with a fundraising drive where local business people and individuals gave generously. Grants from Butler Gallery, the Ireland Fund and Kilkenny County Council were also a major support in the development.

Speaking at the event, Ger Delaney, clinical nurse manager in the Department of Psychiatry welcomed then Mayor Fitzgerald and the official opening of the new space.

“The garden area has always been a work in progress, and with the continued input of hospital staff, Kilkenny Mental Health Association and advice and expertise of Meabh McGuinness, HSE Health Promotion Officer, who has worked closely with mental health services staff, a new dimension has been added to the garden space,” he said.

“With the aid of a garden map, in line with Slí na Sláinte guidelines, service users can now follow a regime of gentle exercise which encourages them to use existing structures like pathways and seating. It is also hoped in the near future to include outdoor exercise equipment.”

Many community groups were represented at the event including, including GROW, Schizophrenia Ireland, Kilkenny Mental Health Association, Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, Patients Advocacy, AWARE, and the HSE’s Health Promotion Department Kilkenny in addition to mental health services staff and management.

Also speaking at the event Meabh McGuiness, HSE Health Promotion Officer said all adults should undertake 30 minutes of moderate activity, five days a week for good health.

“Being active can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes by as much as 50% and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression,” she said.

“It can also help people with generalised anxiety disorder, phobias, panic attacks and stress disorders and can have a positive effect on psychological well being.”

There is now an opportunity in the Department of Psychiatry to maximise the health benefits of both physical activity and the garden together, by encouraging service users with the support of occupational therapist Solomon Nyathi, to use the garden as a place to be active as well as a quiet and tranquil oasis.