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COMBE WARD, RUH BATH


We have recently completed a ward garden for Bath Royal United Hospital. The specialist ward treats dementia patients suffering from other ailments.

The original garden was inaccessible to anyone with walking difficulties and there was no shelter. Seating was not located in sunny spots and was not arranged in a sociable way. The garden was not secure, with direct access to a café and corridor.

Our design had to provide a secure space, calming, accessible and a continuation of the ward corridor inside. Included in the garden is a gazebo, social seating that allows people to face each other when talking. Remember, many elderly people lose flexibility in their necks and find it difficult to talk to someone to their side – it’s much easier to talk when facing someone directly.

One of the main ideas of the garden is that patients can wander out into it from the ward, at any time, via two doors. To facilitate this, we carefully chose a footpath colour that is the same tone as the wood effect floors inside. We have avoided inspection chambers in the path altogether, which avoids the disturbing black hole effect that some dementia sufferers get when they come across a dark manhole cover. People with dementia often have a visual impairment and many cannot see the solidity of a manhole cover – what they perceive is a hole in the ground, which must be incredibly disturbing. We also included a handrail around the garden that links the two doors. The hand rail is painted white to be really obvious against the green background of shrubs. The posts are painted dark green, to visually recede. Looked at in the whole, there is now a looped circuit the patients can walk, through the ward and the garden. To reduce the amount of dirt carried into the ward, we have included porches over the two doors, designed in a domestic style and without any potential ligature points. The porches also act as way-markers, to help the residents find the doors. Planting has been kept simple, with evergreen shrubs used for year round greenery and some bold flowers for seasonal colour. The original natural grass lawn always suffered from shade and we have replaced it with an artificial grass lawn.


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