12th October, 2017

Wishlist is appealing to the community to help fund a sensory garden, as part of Mental Health Week.

The Sunshine Coast health foundation is planning to install the garden in the Older Persons Mental Health Unit at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at a cost of $5000, but community donations are needed to get the green project off the ground.

Wishlist CEO Lisa Rowe said the project would focus on sensory stimulation and would be designed specifically for older people experiencing mental illness.

“We would love the community to rally for this important cause,” Ms Rowe said.

“At some point in most of our lives we experience trauma or distress, and this is just one way we can help people who are requiring treatment in our public health service to battle this debilitating illness.

“If just 500 people gave $10 each, this project would be funded.”

Psychiatrist Dr Pamela Hudson-Jessop and Acting Nurse Unit Manager Sarah Challenger.
Psychiatrist Dr Pamela Hudson-Jessop and Acting Nurse Unit Manager Sarah Challenger.

Acting Nurse Unit Manager Sarah Challenger said a courtyard within the state-of-the-art SCUH facility had been pinpointed for the location of the project.

“The majority of our consumers are over the age of 65, and have come to hospital to receive specialised mental health care,” Ms Challenger said.

“We have a wide variety of mental health conditions which require admission, though we do tend to see a lot of older people with depression and anxiety, especially in those who are experiencing a loss of independence and belonging in the community as they age.”

A recent summary of research into promoting good health through contact with nature, found that even small levels of exposure to nature accounted for improved health outcomes across a number of health conditions, including mental health.

“Sensory input – especially through a sensory garden – is so important to providing holistic care to our consumers in this age group because it is something a lot of them enjoy, and can also improve their health and wellbeing on a number of different levels,” Ms Challenger added.

“I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to apply to Wishlist for funding to help make our Older Persons Mental Health Unit a more relaxing, welcoming and therapeutic environment for our consumers and their families.

“Being in hospital can be a scary and confronting experience, and anything we can do to help alleviate that has to be of benefit for consumers, families and staff.”

Psychiatrist Dr Pamela Hudson-Jessop said natural environments proved to provide a range of health benefits.

“Most of our patients would benefit from being able to access a relaxing outdoor space where they can gather, contemplate, talk, relax and perhaps even meditate,” Dr Hudson-Jessop said.

If you can help, please consider donating at www.wishlist.org.au or phone 5202 1777.

100% of every donation goes directly to the cause as Wishlist’s operational costs are sustained by commercial ventures such as Nambour Hospital’s car park.