Hospital ‘cultivates’ patient skills

Staff take a tour of one of the greenhouses where seedlings are cultivated.
Staff take a tour of one of the greenhouses where seedlings are cultivated.

An organisation dedicated to giving a normal a life to mentally-ill patients has built a strong reputation.

The Spring Foundation, based at Lentegeur Hospital, is using a range of psychosocial rehabilitation and outreach projects to re-establish a sense of hope and recovery through reconnection to the natural world and to the community, identity and heritage.

These projects include a wheelchair repair project that teaches patients skills to repair wheelchairs and a market garden project that has some of the inpatients working to grow vegetables and seedlings that are later sold.

The project forms part of occupational therapy and teaches patients skills in cooking and working with money and help them transition back into society when they leave the hospital.

The market garden is a one-of-a-kind project and its focus is to develop patients to become experienced market gardeners who are able to re-enter society and are equipped to offer their community skills that make them an asset.

This is especially important, as a large number of mentally ill patients are the sole breadwinners in their households, statistics show.

Dr John Parker, a psychiatrist and director of the Spring Foundation, says the name of the organisation was inspired by the suburb where the hospital is based.

“‘Lentegeur’ is a beautiful name that means the ‘essence of spring’ and spring represents hope, new life and new beginnings,” he says.

The organisation was created in 2012 and is a fully registered NPO and public company allowing it to raise funds and be ­self-sufficient.

Parker adds that part of their goal is to liven up the hospital grounds, reffering to the entrance as something that resembles a prison entrance.

“If I saw that [as a patient], I would think I was going to prison,” says Parker.

He adds that the project is aimed at bringing hope to patients and giving them a sense of purpose and meaning.

“These ideas have given rise to the foundation and our hospital needs to be a place that resembles a place of hope and recovery,” he says.V For more information on the foundation visit thespringfoundation.org.

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