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05 Feb 2018 VIDEO: Wellness Garden project build will help brain injury patients

An ongoing project to create a Wellness garden at the Health & Wellbeing Academy at Swansea University has gathered support from patients across the ABMU and Hywel dda areas.

The creation og a Wellness Garden at the Academy is part of an ongoing initiative to deliver neurological rehabilitation to members of the local community. Over recent months, patients from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Hywel Dda Health boards have worked alongside a team from Down to Earth – an award winning social enterprise – to complete the massive task of clearing and weeding out the overgrown pond.

Julia Pridmore, Executive Director of the Health and Wellbeing Academy, said: “Research suggests the places we live and work in can have a big effect on our wellbeing. The Academy sits right next to a large open space, and we thought we could regenerate this as a wellbeing space to help with the rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury patients.

"Brain injury patients benefit greatly from an opportunity to use their existing skills, to learn new skills, and to have the opportunity to contribute to something meaningful – they worked on the garden knowing that it would be a place to facilitate wellbeing for others in the future.

"The patients were motivated to help others because of their experiences - and helping others helped them. This also gave people who could not return to work, because of their brain injuries, a purpose and an opportunity to connect with other people, share their experiences and make new relationships. Research has shown that this facilitates pathways to health and wellbeing in the long term.”

Jon Bayley is head facilitator at Down to Earth, he said: “Down to Earth has been working with traumatic injury patients for about four or five years and the impact on participants is remarkable.  It is about people being together, doing something together that is important and that makes a difference, and that’s what brings about a positive change.

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"People lose a lot of who they are following brain injury and so these opportunities allow them to regain that confidence and sense of self they’ve lost.”

Dr Zoe Fisher from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board said: “Something we’ve been looking at over the last five years is exploring different ways to deliver healthcare.   There is lots of research that shows social integration plays a big part in someone’s physical and mental health, so we need to be thinking towards the future.”

Julia Pridmore added: “Hopefully, if we can prove through the research we’re engaged in with this project that these initiatives work, we can build on that with our partners to develop other wellbeing initiatives and hopefully make a real difference to the people involved.”

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