The Dundee Green Health Partnership (GHP) is funded by NatureScot and partners. It is one of four Scottish pilot partnerships connecting NHS, Dundee City Council, and the Third Sector with nature-based intervention delivery partners and communities. The GHP aims to make more use of Dundee’s green spaces for physical, mental and social wellbeing. Before having the partnership in place Dundee had a large offering of nature-based interventions, without direct referral pathway for NHS Healthcare professionals due to the dynamic nature of the third sector.
Dundee GHP was only officially launched April 2019, (officer in post since June 2018), the results ‘on the ground’ have already been extensive. Although the results have been catalysed by the enthusiastic work of the officer, they have been achieved by the involvement of all stakeholders working together to reduce health inequalities across the city, getting people outside and active, tackling local health and wellbeing issues.
The GHP is an early adaptor of Scotland’s ‘whole system approach’ working across various departments such as the Council’s Neighbourhood Services Environment, Active Travel, Sustainability & Climate Change, to Housing Teams; NHS Tayside Public Health, primary and secondary care including Doctors, Nurses, Consultants, Link Workers, Pharmacists, AHPs (and more), local Universities and organisations such as Leisure & Culture, Positive Steps, and more.
The GHP works with service users and organisational bodies to co-design and produce interventions to make more use of green health interventions. It has been instrumental in creating Green Health Prescriptions, a new prescription connecting people suffering from mental and physical health issues, in recovery and loneliness – with green health interventions delivered by third sector groups. These include MacMillan MoveMore, Steps to Health, Dudhope Therapy Garden, Ninewells Community Garden, TCV, Learning in the Community, Dundee United and Dundee Football Club Community Trusts’, ParkRun, Dighty Connect, ReDiscover Dundee, SAMH, Wellbeing Works, GreenBuds, & ParkLives.
One of our first tasks was to design a pathway that would allow NHS health professionals to refer patients to local nature-based interventions – the innovative Green Health Prescription - which is used alongside more traditional methods to encourage people to access an array of enjoyable and sociable activities in green spaces. These include gardening, cycling, health walks, walking football, kettle exercise, running, and many more. The pathway was co-designed in partnership with community groups, NHS Tayside and Third Sector nature-based interventions.
COVID-19 has meant adapting services to keep people active. Innovative approaches include online activities for all ages and needs; a bird feeding project for shielding groups; home yoga/ Pilates/ gentle movements classes; connecting with home parcels for vulnerable people by including houseplant seedlings from the Botanic Gardens, bringing nature inside; and a garden-based drop-in for staff at Ninewells Hospital. An activity-based nature prescription calendar was developed to encourage Dundonians to explore local green spaces throughout lockdown, helping to keep their daily walks interesting and fun.
Behind the statistics are very inspirational personal stories. Feedback from participants gives a true measure of the impact of nature-based interventions on people who suffer health inequalities. They tell us they forget about their issues and feel more socially connected when cycling, walking or gardening. Service users have described the project as: ‘such a life line’, ‘excellent for us’, ‘complete life saver’, ‘highlight of my week’.
Number of exercise sessions led by Steps to Health.