Our Story

The FORGET FOR A MOMENT FOUNDATION grew out of a desire to give sick children and their parents or caregivers a natural, healthy, and delightful mosaïculture garden or a living wall that would attract and distract children, giving them a momentary break from their fear, pain, and stress.

The idea was to bring nature to those who are cut off from it by the walls of institutions such as hospitals, treatment centres, and health care facilities.

Jeannine Lafrenière, the founder and past president of the FORGET FOR A MOMENT FOUNDATION, knows first-hand about the stress, anxiety and apprehension experienced by patients in health care institutions. Diagnosed with cancer, and waiting anxiously in a hospital waiting room for test results, she wished for something other than old magazines to distract her from her worries. If only there were a window, or even a bit of greenery in the waiting room, to help take her mind off her situation.

Sometime later, Jeannine read an article about “living walls” – also known as biowalls, green walls, 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 children, a trip to the hospital can be confusing and frightening. They want the pain to stop and Mom and Dad cannot help; for the helpless parents, the pain is almost just as bad.

Twitter Headquarters, image courtesy of GSky, Plant Systems, Inc.

Twitter Headquarters, image courtesy of GSky, Plant Systems, Inc.

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 pain killers;
  • Increased mobility and independence;
  • Higher quality of life for chronic and terminal patients.

At a time when our health care system is constrained by financial and human resources, the healing power of nature can play an important role. An investment in a living wall can have demonstrable cost-saving and positive outcomes on health. When patients tend to get well more quickly and reduce their reliance on drugs and follow-up care, health care institutions can realize significant cost-savings. It is a win-win situation when patients, their caregivers and families, and the health care system can reap benefits from something as basic as bringing nature inside.

The benefits of therapeutic green spaces extend beyond those experienced by children and older patients who suffer from various illness and disease. Greenery can have a significant effect on family members and hospital staff as well. Using the healing power of nature has implications for both individuals and the public health care system.

The evidence is strong and the benefits are enormous. More and more hospitals in the United States and Europe are incorporating green spaces, therapeutic gardens, and living walls into their design. 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.

The vision of the FORGET FOR A MOMENT FOUNDATION is that, within ten years, hospitals, rehabilitation centres and chronic care facilities across Canada will incorporate natural structures into the design of all new construction and renovations.  When nature is made accessible by bringing it indoors, patients and residents in institutional settings, along with their families and caregivers, will begin to experience its healing power first-hand. The FORGET FOR A MOMENT FOUNDATION believes that this will help develop a new and deeper respect for the healing power of nature and a heightened desire to ensure that nature is protected and respected.