Last week I went into hospital for surgery on my knee. July 2022 was the first time in my life, other than when I was born, that I’d had to go into a hospital for me. I’ve never had any serious injuries or illnesses. Until my knee went. Or to be precise – the medial meniscus tore. In the past 9 months I’ve had several trips – culminating in last Monday. Surgery day.
As I trained to become a forest therapy guide, in amongst all of the evidence backing the benefits of the natural world was the impact a view of nature had on the recovery of patients in hospital beds. Whilst the healing benefits of nature have been known for millennia, and it has been well documented that Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War was an advocate of the benefits of a view from a hospital bed, it was Dr Roger Ulrich in the late 1970’s who was one of the first people to prove it through scientific study.
Whilst I don’t have any other experience to compare it to, last week I felt the benefits of having a view as I both sat waiting to be called into surgery and during those hours that I came back round afterwards. Watching green woodpeckers, grey squirrels and a fox explore the patch of green space in front of my hospital bed ease my fears of what was to come and revived my spirit as I came back to the world again after. It was calming, soothing, it gave me something to focus on and a reason to get out of my bed and across to the window to get a closer look.
It made me sad to hear that the owners of the hospital, Circle Health Group, are planning to turn the patch of green into a car park. From my own personal experience – Goring Hall Hospital doesn’t need more parking spaces … it needs that green space to be maintained. In the UK we may have a National Health Service – but we should never forget the power of the Natural Health Service too.