Five new gardens and health projects led by community nurses have started their year-long innovation programme with the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI).

The projects are all part of the NGS Elsie Wagg Innovation Scholarship, a unique partnership between the QNI and the National Garden Scheme. The two charities have created the scholarships to show how nurses working in community settings can use the power of gardens and garden visiting to improve people’s health.

The chosen projects, listed below, were all selected for their innovative approaches to improving health, and their creativity in reaching diverse groups with complex health issues.

Each project will benefit from up to £5,000 and will receive a year-long programme of tailored support from the QNI’s Innovation Team led by Dr Amanda Young. The project leaders attended the starting workshop in London during March and their projects will run until March 2025.

Wallington Therapeutic Garden led by Sophie Daniels and Kaloula Hadji

Our plan is to develop a garden where our homeless patient population can grow fresh fruit and vegetables. They will be able to harvest the produce, promoting healthy eating. It will enrich the wellbeing of our patients as they’re encouraged to commit their time and knowledge to positive activities. We also hope to provide a therapeutic space for adults in the wider community to address mental and physical health issues through gardening.

Garden to Plate led by Kendra Schneller

The Garden to Plate Project will support women, street homeless/at risk of homelessness people and people who have no recourse to public funds to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. They will be able to use the food in the kitchen to improve their physical, mental and/or emotional health and they will also contribute to their communities by bringing harvested produce to the local food banks. The project will support their life skills, going through recovery and returning to permanent accommodation. Participants will contribute to selecting seeds to be planted, nurturing them and provide education about how nature, gardens and growing your own benefits better health.

The George’s Community Garden led by Alexandra Tanner

This project links the Lindsey Leg Club Model with practical gardening. Leg Clubs have been shown to improve healing outcomes, while gardening is evidenced to reduce stress and improve mental and physical wellbeing. By linking the two, we aim to develop the project as a social activity for volunteers and patients, particularly those who are socially isolated. The physical activity of gardening itself will support healing outcomes by promoting exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.

General Practice Nurse Community Growers led by Nancy Gailey and Taiyla Howard-Shore

The aim of this project is to encourage nurses to spend time in nature, helping them manage a stressful working life and derive long term health benefits. To reap the benefits of nurturing something. To grow food, to find enjoyment in this, and to eat or share with the community. To use nature as an inspiration, for example to make a bird feeder, insect or hedgehog house, etc. To reflect on gardening to produce something artistic. Nurses will have time to reflect, rest and repair, sow and grow, make and paint, cook and share, supporting good mental health and wellbeing.

Growing Together led by Varda Lassman

This project will have positive impacts for a number of groups centred on a nursing home. Staff will have space outside to nourish the garden with their residents, reflect and reduce stress levels. Residents, families and carers will be active together, bringing them closer and giving families and carers a purpose whilst visiting. Young people can volunteer in a safe and controlled environment. They will learn about long term conditions and it will boost residents’ mood to have young people with them while gardening. Visitors will be able to access health checks and the garden could become a central point for the local community.



For more information about the NGS Elsie Wagg Innovation Scholarships including the history of the programme, and previous projects, please go to: https://qni.org.uk/explore-qni/nurse-led-projects/ngs-elsie-wagg-innovation-scholarship/

To find out more about undertaking an innovation programme with the QNI this year, please go to: https://qni.org.uk/explore-qni/nurse-led-projects/sustainability-and-innovation-projects-in-partnership/ . The QNI is looking for community nurses and organisations who would like to develop innovative projects around sustainability in healthcare.

The QNI has undertaken a new evaluation of its overall Community Nursing Innovation Programme, which will be published next week.

The QNI is also running seven innovation projects in Diabetes care this year, supported by the Burdett Trust for Nursing.



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