A balcony that fell into disrepair at Colchester Hospital has been transformed into a wellbeing garden for staff and patients to use.

The balcony, which connects to Birch Ward on Gainsborough Wing, will open later this year and features seating areas and a variety of plants and flowers.

Birch Ward matron Nicole Snell said: “It has always been such a nice space and was used nine or 10 years ago but reopening it has never been a priority.

“When I started as matron in July 2023, the service manager Lauren said, in her personal development plan, that she wanted to open it as it was such a nice space.”

The area revamp was funded by Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity and the space can also be used for families who may need time to reflect or process difficult news.

Staff, patients, and relatives from neighbouring Peldon, D’Arcy and Tiptree wards will also be able to take advantage of the facility.

Nicole, who wrote a business plan with Lauren, said: “We called it the wellbeing garden because, although it is on Birch, it should be for all four Care of the Elderly wards.

“End of life patients can go out there with their families, while we have lots of patients that celebrate their birthdays here and there is nowhere for them to go with more than two patients.

“Most of our patients are frail and have dementia. Anything we can do for them that’s activity-focused – if we can take them out there to eat their lunch with a member of staff that would really help with our distraction therapy.

“It might be that the therapy staff from Peldon Ward use the balcony with two or three of their patients.”

Nicole explained how families had spoken to her about not having anywhere to go and reflect in what can be a difficult setting for relatives and loved ones of patients.

Nicole said: “I met with a family who said that after they had received some bad news no one took them anywhere.

“They came to the dayroom where lots of staff were taking breaks and they just wished there was somewhere they could have gone, just the three of them.

“It’s for relatives’ wellbeing as well.”

While the new balcony will be welcomed by patients and relatives, staff will also benefit from having a spacious area to relax.

Nicole said: “Tiptree, Peldon and D’Arcy wards do not have staff rooms, so it will be somewhere for them to take a break.”

Nichola Whymark, head of charity fundraising and marketing said: “We are delighted to have funded the improvements to the balcony. 


We know how important it is to have restful and healing spaces for our patients and staff. We are extremely grateful to our generous donors which, enable us to fund vital spaces to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of our community."  

The balcony will be open subject to weather conditions and during daylight hours.