Nurses' stories of a 'Fairy Garden' healing haven for sick children

J Clin Nurs. 2014 Dec;23(23-24):3544-54. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12637. Epub 2014 Jun 4.


Aims and objectives: To report on the stories of registered nurses and nurse administrators in a Thai hospital that recently constructed a healing haven environment called a 'Fairy Garden' to support the formal and informal activities of sick children.

Background: While there has been some research into healing environments in health for adults, there has been no qualitative research into healing environments such as natural gardens for children.

Design: Narrative inquiry was selected to capture the holistic notion of the participant's experience. Clandinin's narrative inquiry framework involving three dimensions sociality, space and temporality was used to analyse the data.

Methods: Eight nurses (including two head nurses, three ward nurses and three nurse administrators) were interviewed in three separate focus groups between November 2011-June 2012.

Results: Findings included storylines/threads of happiness, relaxation and calmness, imagination, spirituality and cooperation in reporting observed responses of sick children to the 'Fairy Garden'. Importantly, play was seen as a distractor from the children's pain and illness, with the children's ward no longer viewed as simply a clinical hospital site. Rather the opportunities that were afforded to children to interact with the 'Fairy Garden' environment expanded their hospital experience to include play, social interaction and educational activities.

Conclusion: The Nurses' stories capture numerous storylines and threads in which the 'Fairy Garden' becomes an environment beyond the constraints of the hospital ward. Storylines indicate increased acceptance and adherence to treatment as the 'Fairy Garden' opens up alternatives for children, especially those children long term in the hospital. Children exhibit behaviours that suggest the 'Fairy Garden' supports psycho-social and physical benefits that improve their hospital stay and provide potential for improved clinical outcomes.

Relevance to clinical practice: Designed hospital environments need to consider the addition of natural and activity spaces to support sick children and their families. Reports from nurses caring for children indicate benefits of the natural environment outside the clinical area.

Keywords: children; cooperation; happiness; narrative; natural environment; nursing; play.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Folklore*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Play and Playthings*