HORTICULTURAL THERAPY FIRST FOR RHS CHELSEA AS SOLDIERS HELP PLANT THE ROOTS OF RECOVERY
May 10th, 2017
SOLDIERS wounded on active military service and supported by horticultural therapy charity HighGround will reap what they sow next month when they help to create a healing eco therapy garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show for Miracle Gro.
In what is thought to be the first project of its kind at the world’s most famous flower show, a team of current and former patients, volunteers and staff from Armed Forces charity HighGround will spend three days creating Miracle Gro’s ‘Come to your Senses’ garden in the Great Pavilion. Transforming a bare patch of turf into a horticultural haven that will be admired by thousands of visitors, will form part of a therapeutic rehabilitation programme for members of the planting team.
Led by HighGround’s horticultural therapist Carol Sales, all members of the team are beneficiaries of horticultural therapy in differing but powerful ways. Carol said:
“Outside space should be seen as a tool to help mental and physical wellbeing; plants and gardening really do have healing powers. We need to be more mindful of how we can ‘self-medicate’ through gardening and our team is looking forward to raising awareness of this at the show.”
HighGround supports serving Armed Forces personnel and veterans by providing therapeutic and employment opportunities using the green environment and the land-based sector. It runs a horticultural therapy service at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court in Surrey and is the only charity delivering such support to seriously injured members of the Armed Forces as part of their recovery.
The HighGround team will help plant up the ‘Come to your Senses’ garden so, when the show opens, visitors can learn about the therapeutic benefits of horticulture for people of all ages. “Creating a show garden offers all sorts of positive therapeutic challenges such as hand to eye coordination, standing tolerance and balance. There’s also the sensory elements as many of the plants will have wonderful scent, lovely textures and vibrant colours. The patients are really relishing the opportunity to take part,” added Carol.
Miracle Gro has been a long-standing supporter of HighGround’s work at Headley Court. Anna Baker Cresswell, the charity’s founder said, “Miracle Gro’s loyal and generous support has helped us deliver more than 4,000 treatment sessions to over 1,100 patients, and the opportunity to help the company spread the message of horticultural therapy through its garden was too good to miss. As we fight to raise the funds to ensure the horticultural therapy service will continue once Headley Court moves to its new home in the Midlands in 2018, we salute our wonderful friends at Miracle Gro.”
For further information please contact Anna firstname.lastname@example.org or 07951 495272.
Notes to Editor:
In 2018 Headley Court is closing and the DMRC’s services will transfer to the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre at Stanford Hall in Nottinghamshire. HighGround needs to raise £350,000 to finance its work over the next three years including the move to Stanford Hall.
HORTICULTURAL THERAPY AND THE MILITARY IN THE U.K.
October 23rd, 2016
HT AND THE MILITARY IN THE UK.
By Anna Baker Cresswell.
Therapeutic Landscapes conference, Sydney, 2016.
Thank-you so much for inviting me. Spent 4 happy years in Australia in the 80’s and great to be back!
Going to talk about HT and the military in the UK. I have always loved walled gardens and after my beloved Mother died in 2004 following a long struggle with Parkinson’s I wanted to do something in her memory.
She was a much better gardener than I will ever be, started the Yellow Book (http://www.ngs.org.uk/) in Northumberland where we live and was a Nightingale Nurse (trained at St Thomas’s Hospital in London where Florence Nightingale trained).
I knew HT had been used by the military in the US since Vietnam and Thrive http://www.thrive.org.uk/ was already doing great work with other client groups including children with behavioural problems and adults with dementia but somehow HT had passed the military by…
I am a keen amateur gardener with no professional qualifications having spent most of my working life in racing and self-employment, so I needed a qualification.
Coventry University do a course http://www.coventry.ac.uk/course-structure/health-and-life-sciences/cpd/social-and-therapeutic-horticulture-diploma/ and I got my PDD in STH in 2006.
Gardening Leave got charitable status in late 2006 and the adventure began.
We all know how important research and evidence are when establishing any new project or service and I approached Combat Stress, formerly known as the Ex Services Mental Welfare Society which had been founded in 1919 by the wives and mothers of returning servicemen after the Great War.
The CEO Commodore Toby Elliott was hugely supportive when I explained that I wanted to see if HT would work for veterans and he remembered the days when all military hospitals kept animals and grew their own veg.
In 1904, the Army Medical Service authorised the employment of gardeners at their hospitals and Army Orders listed gardening equipment in their schedules (Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps RAMC 1904 vol 3) so he knew that what I was proposing wasn’t reinventing the wheel…
Fate found me a walled garden 4 miles from Hollybush House, the Combat Stress treatment centre on the west coast of Scotland where there had been a National Collection of poppies – I couldn’t say no could I..??!!
On 3rd April 2007 the first 2 veterans turned up, more out of curiousity but soon the word spread and we opened Monday to Friday all year round.
The walled garden was critical to the success of the mission as many of the veterans who came to Gardening Leave suffered from hypervigilance and found it very difficult to relax, as they were constantly looking around them for danger.
With only one entrance which could be clearly seen, and high walls all around, the walled garden provided a haven where tea could be drunk and the Hort Therapist and volunteers ensured that the gardening year rolled on and there was always a variety of interesting and meaningful things to do in the garden.
The fact that they could take all the veg back to Hollybush for the retired Army chef to use in the kitchens gave Gardening Leave extra meaning as for many veterans, being thanked and appreciated for bringing back a box of tomatoes or some herbs was a huge boost to their battered self-esteem.
There is a big debate in the UK at the moment as funding gets more and more squeezed, about the difference between ‘treatment’ which is evidence based and measurable, and ‘therapy’ which is essentially nice to have, but harder to evidence.
In 2009 I commissioned Professor Jacqueline Atkinson of the University of Glasgow to evaluate the benefits of HT to Gardening Leave’s veterans and by 2010 I had started 3 more Gardening Leave projects, the last of which was at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners.
In 2010, the then Commanding Officer of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court in Surrey invited me to visit.
This facility is for serving personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, Army and RAF and Headley Court had been gifted to the RAF in 1947 when many of their injured aircrew needed somewhere to recover from their injuries.
It had been quietly going about its business mending injured service personnel to either return to their units or if their injuries prevented this, be medically discharged until it came to public attention in the mid 2000’s when, at the height of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan patients began arriving with serious injuries caused by IEDs.
At the time, Headley Court didn’t have a swimming pool of its own and Help4Heroes http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/ was started with the intention of raising the funds to build one and during this intense period for the UK’s armed forces, a physio and keen gardener called Major Le Feuvre was working at Headley Court.
He realised the need for his very young patients whose lives had been profoundly and in many cases permanently changed by injury, to have some outdoor space within the high pressured and intense environment of Headley Court where the focus was, quite rightly, entirely on injury and the present.
Major Pete as we all called him, recognised the restorative powers of being outdoors and caring for and raising plants and as a physio he recognised the benefits of the outdoors in his own words as “ Providing a challenge nearer to real life; enhancing functional rehab; new skills for soldiers and adding variety to the rehab programme.
On a cognitive level he also recognised the additional benefit of building confidence and self-esteem, addressing social inclusion and aiding concentration and cognitive processing.
Headley Court’s gardens were laid out by Lord Cunliffe who was Governor of the Bank of England between the wars and their high hedges and existing greenhouses lent themselves perfectly to a new project to create a calm, relaxing environment where injured service personnel could get away from OT’s and physios and feel ‘normal’ by getting dirty and exercising mind and body in the fresh air, surrounded by sky and birdsong.
During this time there were a lot of amputee patients and the Test Track garden with lots of different slopes, surfaces and gradients was created in the gardens so amputees could test themselves and their new limbs.
We built a mini version at Chelsea Flower Show in 2012 which won a Bronze Medal and in 2013 Major Pete was posted to Germany, and I set up HighGround to carry on his work with funding from The Soldiers Charity and the Westminster Foundation.
I would have loved to have done the HT’s job myself but running HighGround and developing the land-based employment service for Service Leavers, Reservists and Veterans which makes up the other side of our work meant I needed to find an HT.
Where to look..??
Gardening Leave had taught me that the military is a unique client group. They are used to structure, routine and order and the person I was looking for needed to have excellent horticultural skills and knowledge as these boys and girls don’t suffer fools and are hungry for knowledge.
Enter Carol! She was teaching Horticulture in a mens’ prison and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Horticulturists http://www.horticulture.org.uk/. HMP Service is the nearest comparative client group to the military in an HT context.
It was tough going for Carol initially, as Headley Court is a clinical facility and the OT’s and physios were deeply suspicious of a grey haired middle-aged woman who didn’t speak their language and wanted to keep chickens…
In her first year Carol delivered 1,522 30 minute sessions of HT to 460 patients.
Everyone must be referred to HT by their OT. There are 3 patient groups, Complex Trauma (amputees); Neuro (head injuries) and Force Generation (spines and joints) and Reasons for Referrals to HT are different according to each patient group.
We all know how wonderfully adaptable HT is, and it took a while for the OT’s to see how Carol could help their patients to increase standing tolerance, improve fine motor skills, concentration and all the things you do every day as fellow practitioners.
It took even longer for them to see the socialisation side of HT.
The biopsychosocial model of care and growth brings patients a vision of hope and alters their focus from themselves to something which is beyond self – it’s a work in progress but HT is now included in the locum OTs’ induction which is a huge step in the right direction….
Remember, these are predominantly young, proud, macho men who are not natural help-seekers and the reason they are at Headley Court is because their military careers have been in some cases permanently interrupted by injury.
I mentioned meaning earlier, and for this client group in particular ensuring everything in the garden has purpose and meaning is critical.
They need to see the reason behind what they are being asked to do (get on the bus get off the bus) and once this becomes clear, there is no stopping them.
In spring 2015 we started a farm shop in the gardens one day a week to sell the produce we had grown (and eggs from Carol’s chickens, she got her way..) to staff.
This began as a project for the Neuro patients to encourage social interaction and help them with money handling and other cognitive tasks. Staff got organic, fresh produce at a minimal cost and all the money went back into the project, mostly to buy teabags..!
This had the added benefit of getting hitherto suspicious staff to visit the garden and Carol soon needed an Assistant….
As the benefits to both patients and staff of the therapeutic environment we had created became apparent and the garden got more and more hammer, I managed to persuade the MoD who don’t ‘do’ volunteers, that Gardening Volunteers were needed and our first intrepid GV’s both also volunteers at nearby RHS Wisley https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley arrived in March 2016.
It has been quite a journey and the 3 year HT pilot ends in February 2017. The HT service is now fully integrated into the range of rehab interventions provided by DMRC for injured service personnel.
When Headley Court moves to the late Duke of Westminster’s magnificent Defence National Rehabilitation Centre https://www.thednrc.org.uk/ in 2018 Team HighGround will go too. The walled garden at Stanford Hall is being transformed to form part of our new therapeutic environment and many new and exciting additions to our current facilities such as a dedicated Neuro garden are being created.
This has been a brief gallop through 10 hectic years. It has been hard going at times and the constant quest for funding can take over if one allows it to but I wouldn’t swap places with anyone; these unique and very special people have done their bit, and I’m very proud to be doing mine.
GUARDING THE COUNTRYSIDE EXHIBITION
March 11th, 2015
The Private View of stunning work by internationally-acclaimed artist Jeremy Houghton was devoted to helping raise funds for HighGround, a charity which helps ex-military people to find employment in the land-based sector.
The event at the Osborne Studio Gallery in London, on Tuesday, March 10, was the opening of Jeremy’s exhibition Guarding the Countryside, which attracted a large invited gathering and was greeted with great acclaim.
The Private View, supported by Jane Urquhart Limited (www.janeurquhart.com) was attended by funders and supporters of HighGround including the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds, Major General David McDowall CBE, Lieutenant Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, The Soldier’s Charity, the Master of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners and many others.
The exhibition, Guarding the Countryside will run until March 18 at 2 Motcomb Street, London SW1.
Notes to editors:
1. For more information about HighGround and its work, please contact Anna Baker Cresswell on 07951 495 272 or email@example.com www.highground-uk.org
2. For more information about Jeremy’s art, please contact: Simone Hancox. firstname.lastname@example.org. 07803 813668
3. For more information about The Osborne Studio Gallery, please contact Anna Rawlinson. email@example.com. 0207 235 9667
HIGHGROUND AT HEADLEY COURT
July 21st, 2014
The Trustees of HighGround take note of the Secretary of State for Defence’s announcement on 10th July 2014 “I am today announcing that the Ministry of Defence intends to transfer its Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court to the Stanford Hall Estate facility when it opens in 2017″ and look forward to continuing their working relationship with the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre during and beyond the transfer from Headley Court to Stanford Hall.
APPOINTMENT OF HORTICULTURAL THERAPIST AT HEADLEY COURT
January 12th, 2014
HighGround, the charity which provides land-based career advice and opportunities for ex-Forces personnel, is delighted to announce the appointment of Carol Sales as its first Horticultural Therapist, based at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court.
This is a new role, which has been made possible with funding from ABF the Soldiers’ Charity and the Westminster Foundation, to provide a Horticultural Therapy service for DMRC’s patients.
Carol has excellent credentials for her new post, having been involved with horticulture for more than 30 years.
She has been head gardener of a Victorian walled garden in Surrey, worked as a landscaper and garden designer and as an assessor of horticultural work with several colleges, she already has links with Headley Court.
Carol previously worked in the Prison Service where she set up a horticultural department and taught City and Guilds to prisoners. “It takes them out of themselves and at the same time gives them a qualification and skill to take forward and use in the workplace,” Carol says.
“I feel greatly honoured to have been given this role with HighGround and I want to see the people I work with get really hooked and so absorbed that they want to do more,” she added.
Anna Baker Cresswell, HighGround Development Director said, “I am thrilled to welcome Carol to the HighGround team and can’t wait to get started!”
Major General Martin Rutledge, chief executive of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, said: “we know Horticultural Therapy can help recovery from injury and we are delighted to be able to fund this important area of work. We welcome Carol to her new role.”
Surgeon Captain Paul Hughes RN, Commanding Officer of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, said: “We are very grateful to the ABF and the Westminster Foundation for their generous funding of a Horticultural Therapy Service to benefit our patients.
“Since the introduction of Horticultural Therapy at Headley Court nearly three years ago, a large number of our patients of all ages have spent many rewarding hours working with our staff in our glorious garden. We look forward to the benefits Carol’s experience will bring to this initiative.”
Notes to Editors:
HighGround has signed a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the DMRC to provide a Horticultural Therapy service to DMRC’s patients. The Horticultural Therapist will be embedded in the Occupational Therapy team and will provide a year-round service to a delegated caseload of patients with a range of minor to complex needs. For more information about Headley Court please visit www.highground-uk.org
To interview Carol about her new role, please contact Anna Baker Cresswell as below.
For images of Carol please visit www.highground-uk.org.
HighGround will continue to support members of HM Forces after they leave the military by providing Service Leavers, Reservists and Veterans with expert advice about and insight into alternative land-based jobs, careers and vocational opportunities to enable them to make informed choices which will lead towards employment and fulfilment in civilian life. For more information about HighGround’s Rural Weeks please visit www.highground-uk.org
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity – the Army’s national charity since 1944 – supports thousands of soldiers, former soldiers and their families each year. The charity makes financial grants to individuals in times of need and specialist charities supporting the wider Army family. The need for support continues to grow. Visit www.soldierscharity.org Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/soldierscharity and follow us on Twitter: @soldierscharity
HIGHGROUND – ROOTS TO RECOVERY
August 5th, 2013
A brand new and invaluable service, providing horticultural therapy to military servicemen and women as part of their recovery and rehabilitation, will soon be putting down roots at Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey.
The innovative project, generously funded by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the Westminster Foundation, is led by the recently launched charity HighGround and will see the appointment of a horticultural therapist, embedded in the team of occupational therapists at Headley Court.
Recruitment is now under way and the person who takes up this post in September will need to have a very special combination of skills. To achieve their aims, horticultural therapists need to be not only good gardeners, but even better ‘people’s people’.
Anna Baker Cresswell, the charity’s founder and development director, said, “I am very, very proud that HighGround is going to be providing this service. To be asked to establish horticultural therapy at Headley Court is a huge privilege and the fulfilment of a long-held ambition.”
HighGround (www.highground-uk.org) is a registered charity, based in London. In addition to providing horticultural therapists for military establishments, it will also offer advice and opportunities for service leavers, reservists and veterans about jobs and careers in the land-based sector. This will include farming, forestry, conservation and landscape design, using the new concept of ‘experience weeks’.
Anna, who lives in Northumberland, was inspired to set up this new charity following the success of the Gardening Leave charity she established in 2007 in memory of her mother Valerie, a Nightingale Nurse and passionate gardener.
Anna also says, “I had a friend who served in the Falklands and although he came back, he wasn’t the same and I didn’t understand why.”
“After my mother died in 2004, I decided to find out more about the challenges returning servicemen and women encounter in civvy street and Gardening Leave was the result.
“In many ways, HighGround is a natural progression from this, as horticultural therapy is increasingly recognised as playing an important role in helping to improve health and wellbeing and to restore confidence as part of the long term rehabilitation and recovery process. It can be defined as ‘the use of plants by a trained professional as a medium through which certain clinically-defined goals can be met’ and horticultural therapists need to be very special people.”
Horticultural Therapy has been widely used in the US since Vietnam and although progress in the UK has been slower, John Cliff, co-founder of the Association of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture Practitioners (www.asthp.org.uk) said, “It is fantastic to see the greater use and acceptance of horticultural therapy as part of a multi-disciplinary approach in such a prestigious setting as Headley Court.”
For more information about the position at Headley Court, please visit Join us