The Royal Marsden Hospital Courtyard Garden

royal marsden hospital courtyard

We were asked to come onboard to turn a  disused and pretty unattractive outside space within The Oak Centre for Children and Young People at The Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton, into a place children being treated for cancer would want to spend time and ultimately give them somewhere to get fresh air that also managed to put a smile on their faces.

Marrying the needs of the patients, nursing staff, play therapists and physio teams was no easy task so we created a unique concept of a multi-functional, bright, fun activity garden that really has managed to offer something for everyone who will use it.

Getting to meet the parents & children being treated at The Royal Marsden was quite overwhelming and gave us an understanding and appreciation as to how these children and their families lives have been turned upside down following diagnosis – ensuring we really acknowledged their needs for what the garden should offer them was fundamental.

Most of these kids in treatment go from being happy, healthy, active kids who like most children can’t sit still for long – once they start treatment including.chemotherapy and radiotherapy, they become weak, often nauseous and many can lose up to half their body weight & muscle. The mother who approached us told us how this was one of the toughest elements of hospital life – being cooped up on a ward all day and night with nowhere to take her son for some fresh air other than to stand outside in the car park. The medical staff at The Royal Marsden are exceptional and the hospital is state of the art but the one thing it lacked was decent outside space and this is where we came in. We wanted to create a space these kids could show off to their friends& siblings when they came to visit and make it fun for them to play rather than sitting by the side of a hospital bed.

Once we got underway, the first thing we knew we had to do was really listen to the kids and ask them what they would want from a new garden, so we held a focus group with some initial design concept boards and asked them what their favourite elements were – the parts that really generated the most interest were the cocoon hanging ‘chill-out’ pods and the option of a sports wall including basketball nets that worked for both older patients, youngsters and those in wheel chairs.

We also sat down with the nursing staff, play therapists and physio teams to ask what they wanted – as you can imagine, there was a vast array of requests so our concept of a multi-functional activity garden was perfect

This garden will fundamentally have a positive impact on these patients, their health and their families and that is without doubt the reason we wanted to gift our time to this project .

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