Occupational therapists’ experiences and perceptions of community gardens as an occupation based intervention for the patient population of mental health rehabilitation wards
Gardening is an activity enjoyed by many people from many aspects of life. Gardening at home can be valuable, however, community gardening opens new opportunities for a range of other benefits. Community gardening can provide a sense of belonging and a sense of giving back to the local area. Participating in gardening in a community area gives opportunity to meet new people, learn a new skill, participate in a hobby and gain support from others. People who have a long standing mental illness, such as schizophrenia, may be admitted to a mental health rehabilitation ward. Occupational therapists work with people with mental illness to help them to participate in activities that are enjoyable as well as purposeful. They may assist with life skills, such as cooking, but are often involved in helping people to engage in activities that they enjoy and wish to return to. This project aims to provide a service evaluation about a community garden based in hospital grounds, from occupational therapists who work in mental health rehabilitation wards. The occupational therapists were interviewed about how they feel the community garden benefits themselves and their patients as well as addressing if there are any barriers or challenges they have faced while using the gardens. This feedback was used to create a service evaluation to provide to the community gardens in the hope that they receive positive feedback about their service and perhaps areas they could develop or improve in the future.