How It Started
The idea was to bring nature to those who are cut off from it by the walls of institutions such as hospitals, residential and long-term care centres and treatment centres. The Foundation’s first project was meant for a hospital for children, thence the idea of having some form of animal structure integrated in the living wall.
Jeannine Lafrenière, our Founder, Past President & CEO and President Emeritus, knows first-hand about the stress, anxiety and apprehension experienced by patients in health care establishments.
Diagnosed with cancer, and waiting anxiously in a hospital waiting room for test results, she wished for something other than magazines to distract her from her worries. If only there were some greenery in the waiting room, it would have helped her to lose herself in the beauty of nature and momentarily forget her anguish.
Sometime later, Jeannine read an article about “living walls” – also known as biowalls, and vertical gardens – and their positive effects on the lives of patients in hospital settings. Having recently completed a project to benefit young people, she became intrigued with the idea of establishing a living wall in the waiting room of an emergency department of a children’s hospital. For suffering children, a trip to the hospital can be confusing and frightening, and for the helpless parents, the pain is almost just as bad.
Jeannine uncovered a wealth of evidence to support the feasibility and benefits of bringing nature inside the walls of hospitals, not just for children, but for people of all ages. Published studies have found that adding greenery to the sterile hospital environment produces:
- Reduced stress and anxiety for both patients and staff;
- Faster recovery, leading to shorter hospital stays;
- Reduced pain, evidenced by lower intake of painkillers;
- Increased mobility and independence;
- Higher quality of life for chronic and terminal patients.
As recently as 2012, however, no hospitals in Canada had incorporated nature in their waiting rooms. This was the motivating factor in the establishment of the Forget For A Moment Foundation.