75 years of the NHS. The Power of Partnerships: Unifying Healthcare, Well-Being, and Nature.

At Bellrock we’re celebrating 75 years of the NHS and 139 combined years of NHS partnerships. We take this opportunity to look at the value these partnerships provide and to shine a light on the projects that are blending healthcare, well-being, and nature.

Carseview Nature Recovery Project

As you look around the calm and welcoming natural landscape of the garden at Carseview Centre Dundee, it is hard to imagine that just a few short months ago it was a somewhat neglected and overlooked outdoor space.

Lorna Strachan from NHS Tayside has made it her mission to improve the grounds at Carseview Centre for the wellbeing and mental health of patients, and with her team’s help has launched the Carseview Nature Recovery Project. The project strives to create an environmental haven at Carseview, which will support individuals’ health and well-being, whilst encouraging nature to thrive.

Supported by Bellrock grounds staff the transformation has been made possible through the expansion and upgrade to the existing path network. Whilst the work is yet to be fully completed, with some 14 tonnes of gravel being added to over a mile of pathways, the initial results of the project are really encouraging. More and more patients are spending time outdoors and taking an interest in the plants, trees, and wildlife.

“Further development of the project will be led by ideas and contributions from patients and staff on-site and will provide opportunities for connection with nature and its many proven benefits in terms of physical and mental wellbeing.

The Nature Recovery Steering Group will continue to support and develop the work in close partnership with RSPB Scotland, Dundee’s Green Health Partnership, NHS Tayside, Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership and crucially the significant contribution from Bellrock, which is integral to the success of the project.”

Lorna StrachanNHS Tayside

Lorna’s commitment to creating a calming and therapeutic environment is both inspiring and important. Compelling evidence supports the use of nature as a tool for recovery, and so ‘as we care for nature, so we care for ourselves’.

This belief truly comes to life at West Berkshire Community Hospital, where there is a partnership project directly harnessing nature as a tool for recovery.

Therapy Garden

A garden may not be the first place that you expect to find a chef, but Head Chef Francis De La Cruz is part of a team with an innovative idea that combines a therapy garden with a source of fresh fruit and vegetables for patient and visitor food.

The team at West Berkshire Community Hospital grow a variety of fruit and vegetables including apples, plums, tomatoes, beans, cabbages, and sweetcorn. This organic and seasonal produce is then used by Bellrock’s Head Chef Francis in a healthy, seasonal, and flexible menu to be enjoyed by patients and in the café.

As equally important as providing nutritious edible produce, this garden also serves as an essential space for nature therapy that benefits staff, patients, and the local community. The calming oasis provides seating, shade, and the space for outdoor therapies and is habitually used by therapists as a tool for their patients’ treatment and well-being.

The Rainbow Garden

On the same grounds at West Berkshire Community Hospital, there is another garden that Bellrock are proud to be connected to. The Rainbow Room is a facility used by patients receiving end-of-life care, an extension of this facility is the outside haven known as the Rainbow Garden.

The Rainbow Garden provides a calming outdoor retreat in which patients and their loved ones can spend time together. It was thoughtfully designed to ensure the sensory elements of the garden, such as colourful flowers, could be enjoyed whilst lying in a hospital bed.

This project was made possible by donations from the local community, with many of the benefactors having a personal connection to the Rainbow Room. A large number of volunteers worked alongside hospital teams to create the garden and many of these volunteers still work alongside the Bellrock grounds team to maintain and water the garden.

Whilst the key qualities of the West Berkshire Community Hospital’s gardens are therapy and nourishment, they also support carbon reduction and local biodiversity, both of which are priorities for the team at West Berkshire Community Hospital. The hospital is home to a third project which takes this initiative further.

Tiny Forest

A forest, even a ‘tiny’ one, may not be something that you would expect to find at a hospital, but the West Berkshire Community Hospital Tiny Forest is a unique partnership project and is the first of its kind at an NHS site.

A ‘Tiny Forest’ is a compact, native woodland which is up to 30 times denser than conventional tree planting and therefore has some distinctive environmental benefits. This project supports local biodiversity whilst providing the community with a space to enjoy the wellbeing benefits of nature.

Bellrock were part of the forest’s creation in 2021 and our on-site grounds staff help volunteers to maintain the space so that it can continue to be a place that patients and staff use to reconnect with nature.

In a diverse mix of all four forest layers, the forest is home to 600 native trees and shrubs and can attract up to 400 different animal and plant species. The environmental benefits don’t stop there however, a Tiny Forest of this size can absorb up to 600kg of carbon per year and be effective in flood risk mitigation and noise reduction.
Bellrock are committed to supporting these local initiatives that protect the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Decarbonisation of the NHS

Through our Bellrock company Carbon Architecture, we are proud of the opportunity to further develop climate change and wider decarbonisation projects for the NHS.

As specialists in the sustainability space, Carbon Architecture have partnered with multiple NHS trusts to reduce their carbon footprint and work towards achieving Net Zero emissions. This work not only ensures that NHS trusts comply with climate change laws but also positions the NHS, one of the world’s largest healthcare systems, as a leader in addressing climate change with a global impact.

A key benefit of this partnership is that the decarbonisation efforts within the NHS can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate climate change, and improve air quality which in turn can play a part in protecting public health. Working together to use clean energy sources, reduce waste and adopt sustainable practices can actually improve the public health outcomes.

It’s incredible to think how much the NHS has achieved over the last 75 years. These projects highlight that whilst the NHS is still delivering on its mission to provide quality healthcare for all, for free, it is also evolving to support the environment and its communities in remarkable ways.

We’re proud of our enduring partnership with the NHS and of our 188 colleagues that are right now working on NHS contracts. Today we say Happy 75th birthday to the NHS and thank you from your partners at Bellrock.