Belfast Telegraph

Care home gardens to be landscaped in dementia-friendly project

Care home gardens will be landscaped with scented flowers, seats and bird feeders using a National Lottery grant, in a bid to provide familiar settings for people with dementia.

Outdoor spaces in many dementia care homes are rarely used, a charity said, and described them as "highly-manicured spaces" rather than gardens that might feel homely to residents living there.

Thirty care homes will have their gardens transformed by Learning through Landscapes using the £1.3 million grant after a successful pilot project at one residence in Kent which has been hailed as helping to improve patients' wellbeing.

It is estimated that one third of the people living with dementia in the UK are in a care home, but the charity said many who may have been used to working outdoors or enjoyed gardening are missing out on those activities when they move into a home.

The garden of a care home in Herne Bay in Kent was given a seaside area which included a beach hut and shells as a reminder to residents of visits to the coast.

The landscaper also laid paths which always return to the beginning and memory beds with familiar flowers, prompting residents to go outdoors more and reducing anxiety, Sue Cliffe, from Age UK Herne Bay said.

"Since we have made the changes our service users engage so much more with the outdoors, they are now able to go outside on their own and can often be found with a cup of tea watching the wildlife in our new habitat area," she said.

"We can see for ourselves how being outdoors and in the natural environment helps their health and wellbeing by improving mobility, increasing relaxation and reducing anxiety."

Juno Hollyhock, executive director of Learning through Landscapes, said staff and residents can work together to come up with" innovative and exciting garden spaces".

Dawn Austwick, Big Lottery Fund chief executive, said: "This inspiring project will support people with dementia to be more independent through better access to the natural environment.

"Designed with input from the residents themselves, with familiar features that will stimulate their memories, these outdoor spaces will have a hugely positive impact on people's health and wellbeing. We are pleased to support Learning through Landscapes to expand this work across the UK."

The first 10 locations to benefit from the funding are:

:: Craigbank Care Home (Bupa), Saracen Street, Glasgow

:: Three Cliffs Care Home, Cefn Bryn Lane, Penmaen, South Gower, Swansea

:: Age NI Meadowbank, Donaghaine Rd, Omagh

:: Age UK West Sussex, Town Barn Road, Crawley, West Sussex

:: The Dales Care Home, Main St, Ellenborough, Maryport, Cumbria

:: Age UK Maidstone, The Goodman Centre, Egremont Road, Maidstone, Kent

:: Age UK Manchester, Holmfield Residential Care Home, Darley Avenue, Manchester

:: Edith Moffat House, Albion Road, North Shields, Tyne and Wear

:: Cedar Grove Wellbeing Centre, Cedar Grove, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear

:: Evesham Community Hospital, Waterside, Evesham, Worcestershire

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