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GARDENS ACTIVITIES

GREEN-FINGERED

WELLBEING

What will I learn from this feature? How to involve residents of all abilities in gardening

Alison Marsden, a gardening advisor and tutor specialising in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture, explains how care home residents can benefit from getting their fingers green this autumn

T

he wealth of contemplative display gardens featuring at this year’s flower shows, as well as all the testimonials to the healing power of gardening in the media are testament to the public’s recognition of the therapeutic value of green spaces and gardening. Beyond the headlines, there is a wealth of research to evidence the much wider benefits to physical and mental health of engaging with the natural world In the 2018 publication, ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’, the UK government committed to improve health and wellbeing by using green spaces and connecting with the environment. Care homes have a vital role to play for their residents, especially those whose physical or mental health support needs preclude just going out for a walk even if there is accessible green space close by.

Great autumn gardening activities PLANTING BULBS FOR SPRING POTS. This is a typical autumn gardening task and garden centres offer a huge range of bulbs. There are no fiddly seeds to handle and this is a good group activity with two or three people working on a pot together. There is scope for crumbling compost, carefully placing bubs with a conversation about which way up they go, choosing which pansies to add for winter colour, watering and a discussion about aftercare, the seasons and looking forward to flowers in spring.

SEASONAL COLLAGE. This is an activity for indoors and one that can be repeated at different times of the year reflecting the

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changing seasons. The modern slant on a traditional collage means going gluefree. Leaves, flowers and grasses are simply arranged on a sheet of paper and preserved by a photograph which can then be printed out to keep and trigger conversations with visiting family.

Let’s get physical

Care homes can offer many different gardenbased activities, each with their own benefits – and the first step is to encourage residents simply to get outdoors. It is easy for people, especially with reduced mobility or dementia, to lose the habit of going outside and to choose indoor pastimes by default. But we know that time in a natural environment can reduce stress and anxiety. Equally, a garden offers multi-sensory engagement: feeling fresh air and sunshine, looking at the shapes and colours of plants, picking up scents and listening to birdsong. Add in the opportunity for socialisation, chatting over a cup of tea or taking other activities outside, and the benefits to wellbeing become clear. The second stage is to engage residents in gardening either through hands-on participation or watching. Table-top www.chmonline.co.uk

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Care Home Management magazine Sept/Oct 2019  

The September/October issue of Care Home Management magazine contains a great range of news, features, information and advice for care home...

Care Home Management magazine Sept/Oct 2019  

The September/October issue of Care Home Management magazine contains a great range of news, features, information and advice for care home...

Profile for chmonline
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