A UHSussex occupational therapist has been awarded Star of the Month for July after organising a voluntary community day that saw students revamp the garden at a neurorehabilitation service, to provide a more accessible and welcoming space for patients.
Amanda Cornish was nominated for her commitment to creating a tranquil space for patient’s time and time again, having welcomed students to Donald Wilson House, a specialist neurorehabilitation service at St Richard’s, previously in 2019 and again in 2022, to tend to the service’s garden.
Through a relationship with Seaford College, the group of 14–18-year-olds tidied up the garden to create a peaceful space, filled with beautiful flowers and plants for patients to enjoy.
Amanda was nominated by Shona Reeve, Head of Nursing for Stroke, Neurology and Neuro Rehab, who was impressed by Amanda’s proactive attitude to creating an outdoor area where patients undergoing neurorehabilitation could benefit from nature-based rehabilitation and her commitment to helping towards their care.
Shona said: “It was a remarkable and special day and the appreciation from the patients has been overwhelming. Thank you so much Amanda for making this day happen again for another year.”
On receiving her award, Amanda said: “I’m really speechless, which is quite unusual for me. It’s a real honour and it’s a real privilege to work here. Helping to make the space the nicest place as possible for patients means a lot and is really important.
“The patients love the students coming in and their support is really lovely.”
The group built a large, raised planter which is accessible for wheelchair users so patients can get their hands dirty, new tables for relatives and friends to enjoy socialising in the garden, as well as a new purpose-built gate increasing safety for the patients.
The students ended the day making bird boxes alongside patients who have had life changing brain injuries, giving them the opportunity to practice their skills with the support of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and the nursing team.
Amanda expressed: “It’s so important that patients have a space where they can feel calm and relaxed. We have a lot of people with us that have young children and families, so it’s really important that this doesn’t feel like an intimidating space. They can get used to how their life might be because it’s potentially going to be quite different to how it was before they came into hospital.”
If you know an individual, colleague, team or volunteer that has gone above and beyond why not nominate them for a Star of the Month award.