All children’s hospital bedrooms ‘will face mountains or garden’

Therapeutic benefit of nature plays key role in patient treatment, group says

Most of Ireland’s main hospitals now ban or advise against visitors bringing flowers as gifts, citing concerns over hygiene, allergies, water spillages, vase breakages, a lack of space and creating extra work for nurses.

Most of Ireland’s main hospitals now ban or advise against visitors bringing flowers as gifts, citing concerns over hygiene, allergies, water spillages, vase breakages, a lack of space and creating extra work for nurses.

 

All 380 single ensuite bedrooms at the new national children’s hospital will have a view of the Dublin Mountains or the hospital’s ‘Rainbow Garden’ in recognition of the “therapeutic benefits” of outdoor areas and gardens, Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) has said.

Responding to a report in Monday’s Irish Times on the ban on flowers and plants in most hospitals, CHI, which represents the country’s three national children’s hospitals, said the new hospital had been designed with the therapeutic benefits of nature in mind.

The hospital, which is due to open in 2023 despite cost overruns, will have 14 gardens and courtyards across four acres including an oval-shaped Rainbow garden which will be “the length of Croke Park and which forms a secure, sheltered environment within the hospital’s grounds,” it said.

CHI noted that it was rare for parents and families to bring flowers or plants as gifts to children in hospital but that it would discourage visitors from bringing fresh flowers and plants into “high risk clinical areas, especially intensive care, oncology, coronary care units, respiratory and orthopaedic wards”.

Most of Ireland’s main hospitals now ban or advise against visitors bringing flowers as gifts, citing concerns over hygiene, allergies, water spillages, vase breakages, a lack of space and creating extra work for nurses.

Stagnant water risk

The Dublin Midlands Hospital Group has stopped visitors bringing flowers into St James’, Tallaght, the Coombe, Portlaoise, Tullamore and Naas while the South/Southwest hospital group introduced the ban as a result of the “risk of pseudomonas exposure for stagnant water in vases”.

Ireland’s east hospital group, which includes Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital, the Mater, St Vincent’s and the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear, said it had no official flower or plant policy and that a ban did not exist in its hospitals.

However, it noted that some hospitals may restrict flowers in ICU, CCU and some isolation rooms where patients may be seriously ill with respiratory and other complex illnesses. “Cut flowers and plants in stagnant water can pose a potential risk of infection to susceptible patients and are therefore not recommended on some wards,” it said.

The Saolta University Health Care Group, which represents hospitals in Letterkenny, Sligo, Roscommon and Galway, said it had no group-wide flower policy and advised visitors to check with ward staff before bringing or sending someone flowers.

Mary Flanagan, director of Nursing, Quality & Clinical Services at Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross and Blackrock, said allowing patients access to nature and gardens contributed “significantly to a sense of well-being and quality of life” and was part of the hospice’s “holistic approach to support people with complex life-limiting illness”.

She said the hospice welcomed flowers and plants in bedrooms “as they bring such joy and can be a welcome talking point or distraction. Their colour can also brighten up a room and make it feel more homely. We’re lucky to have volunteers who help to keep our flowers and plants refreshed at all times.”

All hospice palliative care rooms have a view of and direct access to nature and beds in Harold’s Cross can be wheeled out into the courtyard, she said. “In our experience this linkage to nature and the world around them provides great comfort to people at a difficult time, really making a difference to their mood.”