Residents put their green fingers to the test with ‘The Garden Project’

Our residents and staff created a sensory garden and they are now quite literally enjoying the fruits of their labour.

Our 74-bedroom residential and nursing home has always enjoyed the benefits of the countryside, being on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border, but now we’ve taken this to the next level, growing our own produce via ‘The Garden Project’, which began in March.

Our activities lead, Sally-Ann Davis explains; “We started The Garden Project because we wanted to encourage our residents to make the most of our gardens that overlook the neighbouring fields and the beautiful views. Being outside in nature can be very calming and lift people’s mood. We also wanted it to be a working space where we could grow herbs and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

“A lot of our residents love to garden, so this ongoing project is perfect for them and we’re now at the point where we’re putting the home-grown mint on the new potatoes at lunch and raspberries on our cakes for afternoon tea. It’s a big success and it’s certainly a talking point at mealtimes!”

Our residents Alfred Hudson, 87, and Leonard Redman, 85, are both keen gardeners and they are among those who have been enjoying the benefits of the project.

“It’s good to do the jobs properly,” Alfred says, “I’ve been sorting the onions and preparing the soil. There’s always more to do.”

“The garden is fantastic!” says Leonard, who has been planting and pruning, “it’s kept us all busy and it’s very colourful.”

The Garden Project was thoughtfully designed by Sally-Ann for those living with dementia and contains raised planters for easier access, strong-smelling plants and herbs, such as lavender, mint and thyme, and other sensory elements such as wind chimes.

She explains how, as a multisensory activity, gardening can be powerful and therapeutic for individuals living with dementia, benefitting cognitive function, emotional well-being and physical health.

“Gardening can help our residents to stay active and to feel empowered as they nurture the plants.” She says. “It can be very mindful especially with the textures and the smells, like the smell of the soil for example.

“It can evoke memories in our residents that may otherwise be hard for them to reach and it’s lovely to see them having conversations about the gardens they had before and the best way to do things. It’s also been very helpful because I’ve never grown anything prior to this, so they are teaching me how it’s done!”

Our care home manager, Dania Meadows says, “Setting up The Garden Project has been a labour of love and a joint effort across the home. Now it’s in full swing we love that our residents feel such a sense of accomplishment.”

As a very sociable project it’s been brilliant for our active residents who love to garden and it’s also perfect for our residents who just love to sit and enjoy the sensory elements. It’s a place everyone can use when family and friends come to visit because it’s so private and peaceful. We’ve even had family members joining in and bringing plants and ornaments for it.

“Whether our residents created it, enjoy maintaining it, sitting in it or simply eating the produce from it, we’re very proud of our garden and what our residents have achieved and we’re delighted it brings them so much happiness in so many different ways.



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