One of Stirling’s hidden treasures has been playing host to children and their families who are supported by NHS Forth Valley’s Health Visiting Support Team in Stirling. Play sessions have been arranged in Ailie’s Garden behind the Smith Art Gallery and Museum which serves as an open-air gallery, complete with musical instruments and games for little ones. The garden is named after Ailie Mclaurin, a keen gardener, tourism entrepreneur, nurse and midwife.
The decision to team up with the Smith Museum was made possible with the help of an NHS Forth Valley Covid-19 response grant which also prompted virtual sessions after a decision was taken to postpone face-to-face appointments. The aim was to provide an inclusive service, universally available and accessible to as many individuals and families as possible. These sessions cover a wide range of subjects and include baby massage, benefits of playing with your child, sleep, managing behaviour and introducing first solids.
Nursery Nurse with the Support Team, Teresa McQuillian, said: “Although we are still unable to reinstate face-to-face groups, we have been fortunate to be able to provide parents with the opportunity to attend our outdoor groups. We have worked with our colleagues from the Smith Art Gallery and Museum to offer groups for children under the age of one and those aged between one and three.
“Through the group for children aged under one, parents have been able to meet up in a Covid-safe environment and benefit from social interactions and discussions around health-related topics. The group for children aged one to three has focused on motor skills, balance, co-ordination and, of course, having fun.
“Despite the sometimes inclement weather parents and little ones have enjoyed meeting up and engaging in activities while benefiting from being in a lovely, peaceful outdoor environment.
This partnership working with the local museum has been extremely positive.”
Although early days for the outdoor group, parents are reporting their appreciation of the project as a whole. The team says the activities – both in the garden and through the virtual sessions – are removing isolation and increasing parental confidence and wellbeing and are providing the opportunity to strengthen social bonds.
More information on NHS Forth Valley’s Covid-19 response grants scheme, which aim to help local organisations and community groups across Forth Valley improve mental health and wellbeing, can be found here.