NHS wellbeing gardens support staff in Greater Manchester

We’re working with NHS Property Services to improve the wellbeing and garden space of colleagues, patients and communities

Supporting NHS workers

Over the past year, our Communities Team have been working with NHS Property Services (NHSPS) on an exciting pilot programme in the Greater Manchester area. NHS Property Services manage a portfolio of more than 3,000 properties across the UK to ensure that these sites are fit for purpose so that NHS staff can deliver excellent patient care.

There’s been a huge strain on NHS workers over the last two years, with higher rates of burnout and stress-induced absence among staff. With this in mind, along with the need for community engagement and benefit, NHSPS has commissioned and funded four wellbeing gardens at doctor’s surgeries across Greater Manchester in areas where people are more likely to suffer from poorer health outcomes.

Improving garden spaces

Local teams identified sites where there would be significant benefits to colleagues, patients and communities from having an improved garden space. The four sites chosen by NHSPS are:

  • Alexandra Park Health Centre
  • Levenshulme Medical Practice
  • Longsight Medical Practice
  • Silverdale Medical Practice

Designed with healing in mind

Our Community Outreach team have been working with NHS staff at each of the sites to co-create a low-maintenance garden to enrich and support staff wellbeing and improve biodiversity. Gardening and connecting with nature have been proven to reduce levels of anxiety, depression and stress, which accompanied by taking quality breaks from their desks, can help to protect staff from burnout. Research has also proven that, through ‘Attention Restoration Theory’, spending even short amounts of time in nature, helps individuals return to work refreshed, with renewed concentration levels.

Alexandra Park Health Centre

Staff at Alexandra Park Health Centre have transformed its courtyard into a restful retreat in memory of a colleague who passed. It is a multifunctional space with a quiet area for reflection and a seating space for staff to eat lunch and host informal meetings. Thanks to funding from the National Garden Scheme Community Garden Grants programme, in partnership with Parkinson’s UK, the garden has a covered area with a green roof to make it usable in all weathers and to maximise environmental benefits.

As well as space for staff, there is also a flower and fruit garden outside the surgery featuring specialist pieces made by local charity Emmaus Bolton. The charity offers home, work and skill-building opportunities to formerly homeless people. Residents at Emmaus Bolton upcycle furniture at an on-site workshop, where they designed and built accessible benches for the garden.

Longsight Medical Practice

Alongside creating the gardens, the Community Outreach team have also hosted a range of workshops for surgery staff at Longsight Medical Practice, showing a range of crafts and activities to help upskill participants and connect them to nature. To celebrate the completion of the garden and the festive season, staff have been making wreaths and taking mindful time to be creative.

Future projects

Thanks to this successful pilot, we have extended our partnership with the NHSPS and plan to open further gardens at NHSPS sites across the UK, including the stroke and head injury unit at Woking Community Hospital in 2023.

This is a closed programme, however, if you would like to green your NHS space or start gardening in your community why not take a look at our resources? You can also get all the latest news on funding and projects by signing up for our RHS Communities newsletter.

Looking for something to do with your group this festive season? Try taking some mindful time to make a wreath, and follow our step-by-step advice.

“We are able to go out into the garden, and it immediately feels like a welcoming, bright and happy place that I and all of children community nursing teams has made. It brings us together at lunch instead of working at our desks and makes us feel uplifted and refreshed to go back to work again.”

Staff Member, Longsight Medical Practice
Gardening for health and wellbeing

Gardens and gardening make us feel better – that’s a fact – and the real magic is that anyone, anywhere can enjoy their healing power.

Find out more

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.