University of São Paulo: Project uses flowers to help rehabilitate psychiatric patients

Since October of last year, a project with the participation of psychiatric patients has been bringing beauty and joy to the regulars of the Institute of Psychiatry (IPq) of the Hospital das Clínicas of the Faculty of Medicine of USP, in São Paulo. In treatment at Hospital Dia, they experience moments of well-being and welcome, dealing with different types of flowers and learning how to make arrangements and bouquets, while helping to decorate the hospital’s environments.

“I have no doubt that after working with the flowers for a few moments, the person will feel calmer, happier, more joyful and will transmit this to others”, highlights Professor Wagner Gattaz, president of the IPq Board of Directors. “The quest to improve the work environment also benefits professionals, who revert this benefit to care for our patients”, he explains.

Gattaz is the creator of the Flores no IPq project, an initiative that receives flowers and foliage used in the decoration of large events, ceremonies and weddings, but which are still in good condition and may have their useful life cycle extended, before being discarded.

He met businessman Bruno Zani, director of Cenográphia Projetos de Festas, and asked about the destination of the flowers used in the company’s events. He discovered that he already donated flowers to entities such as the Flor Gentil Institute, dedicated to the elaboration and delivery of arrangements in nursing homes. The activity was suspended by the pandemic but, with the resumption of events, the IPq was included among the entities receiving donations. “I work in a privileged segment, with beautiful and grandiose flowers, and sharing this beyond the parties, bringing beauty and joy to other people, motivates and drives me”, emphasizes Zani. According to him, his customers also like to know that the flowers that were part of a special moment in their lives will have a new and happy destination.

To make this work possible with patients, the IPq counted on the engagement of Cristina Igue, who takes care of the hospital’s environmental well-being, and Ana Laura Alves, from Hospital Dia Adultos, responsible for receiving and distributing logistics. The flowers arrive in trucks, are destined for patients during occupational therapy to learn how to make arrangements, and then are distributed by the institute to decorate the environments. “Patients can also take the arrangements home or they can sell them and with this money it is possible to invest again in occupational therapy, forming a project that generates sustainability”, explains Gattaz.

Psychosocial rehabilitation and new profession
Patients participating in the Flores no IPq project have different psychiatric diagnoses, have already been under treatment and are on their way to hospital discharge. “They start to attend the hospital during the day and, at night, they go home, which means that it is a partial hospitalization that serves to reintroduce the person to social and professional life”, highlights Gattaz.

On the way to psychosocial rehabilitation, it is the occupational therapy team that takes care of the patients’ activities with the flowers, which includes learning from florist teachers, provided by the donor company, who teach patients how to care for the flowers and how to make the arrangements. “This qualifies some patients to seek employment in florists after being discharged, because they are learning a new profession in practice”, says the professor. He highlights the work of occupational therapy as an important factor for changing the patient’s attitude towards the world and, in this case, the inclusion of an activity that is beautiful, pleasant and makes one feel pleasure in producing something.

With a recognized and awarded career in the field of psychiatry, Gattaz says that new ideas such as the project with flowers are motivated by the vocation of a doctor. “My role of relieving my patients’ pain, relieving moral pain, suffering, anguish, we achieve in several ways: the first and most important is through science, with scientifically based methods and treatments. But alongside that, there is also the goal of providing good times for everyone,” she concludes. The success of the activity with patients, added to the motivation of professionals and IPq visitors who appreciate or even want to work with flowers are examples of this.

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