Healing gardens in the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital: Reflections on benefits, preferences and design from bench diaries

Reeve, Angela, Desha, Cheryl, & Nieberler-Walker, Katharina (2015) Healing gardens in the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital: Reflections on benefits, preferences and design from bench diaries. In Children's Health Queensland Research Day, 11 December 2015, Brisbane, Qld. (Unpublished)



Interest in the use of healing gardens in healthcare settings to provide therapeutic benefits is increasing, however insight is needed to determine whether patients, patient families and friends, and staff who spend time in these gardens use these in the manner for which they were designed, and experience the benefits suggested by broader research in this field.


Visitors to four of the LCCH gardens have left comments in ‘bench diaries’ (visitors books). Analysis of these comments yields valuable insights into the use of the gardens, enabling reflection on the design intent and outcomes and guidance regarding how the gardens might be better utilised, as well as a basis for further investigation into the use and value of the gardens.


Comments have been coded and analysed using a thematic analysis approach to identify patterns relating to the reasons for which people appear to come to the healing gardens; benefits they appear to receive from spending time there; and features and aspects of the gardens that they appear to appreciate in particular. Only comments related to the gardens have been used in this analysis, with all comments being deidentified.


Comments left in the Adventure Garden and Secret Garden bench diaries were used for the analysis, as Staff Garden and Babies Garden bench diary comments did not relate to the garden. There were no negative comments relating to the gardens, other than one comment requesting additional benches. The vast majority of comments expressed gratitude for the space.

The four most frequently observed themes from the comments left in the Secret Garden Bench Diary indicated that they were seeking ‘time out’ from their experiences of being at the hospital, a desire for a ‘dose of nature’ (greenery, beautiful garden, etc), and fresh air, and that the garden space provided a restorative experience to them in some manner. Comments in the Adventure Garden Bench Diary related predominately to the view. Analysis of the comments emphasises the importance of gardens providing multi-sensory experiences that significantly differentiate the space from the hospital ward and provide visitors with a sense of being away, of peacefulness, and of familiarity with the outside world. Positioning gardens with prospect, and solar aspect, appears important in these regards, as does the presence of visible greenery. Adequate seating in locations that provide pleasing views appears particularly important for staff and adult visitors. Whilst comments in the Bench Diaries did not indicate direct awareness of the stress and anxiety-reducing effects that research elsewhere has found from viewing plants and nature, however these effects may underpin many of these experiences that visitors did share.

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ID Code: 95055
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Biophilic urbanism, Healing garden, Urban greening, Therapeutic garden
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > OTHER MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (119900) > Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified (119999)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300) > Design Innovation (120302)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > OTHER BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (129900) > Built Environment and Design not elsewhere classified (129999)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 20 Apr 2016 02:07
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2016 02:08

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