When searching for a care home the importance of a varied activity programme should not be underestimated. Keeping physically active, mentally engaged and interacting socially is an important aspect of the overall care of older people. Everyone will enjoy different activities, but gardening and outdoor activities are ideal for encouraging care and nursing home residents to be physically active and engaged.
Country Court in Bloom is an annual competition to bring people together and get them involved in a shared project. Gardening together has been a great way for staff and residents to engage in joint activity and to find a common interest. Country Court in Bloom has seen staff from many different roles getting involved, not just those that organise activities. Care Home Chefs have been keen to grow vegetables and herbs to use in their dishes. Maintenance staff have been enlisted to make planters and bird tables.
“We’ve learned so much from our residents,” said Well-being Coordinator Julie Moore at The Grove Care Home near Grimsby. “When I first heard about Country Court in Bloom, I was quite apprehensive as I’d never done any gardening before, I didn’t know where to start. I shouldn’t have worried though, the residents know exactly when to plant things and what to do. Before long, we’d got sunflowers, vegetables and all sorts growing. Each year it gets better and better with new and more creative ideas”.
“It’s great to see the physical benefits of gardening,” said Georgia Morrison, Well-being Coordinator at Lakeview Lodge Care Home. “We have a lady who likes to stay in her room and can often get upset about her condition. Since we’ve stared our gardening project, she’s regained her focus. She has organised our pots and wants to be our head gardener. She is always taking cuttings to grow and bosses us about where to put things! She grows in confidence while in the garden, you can see she’s in her happy place, it’s lovely to see her true happy self. She says if she were ten years younger would come and join me on activities!”
The physical benefits of gardening include practising dexterity skills and light exercise through weeding, potting, planting, sweeping and digging. For residents living with dementia, gardening can bring a sense of calm. It’s also an opportunity to get involved in meaningful interactions with others, whether it’s staff or other residents.
Gardening and spending time outdoors is a great sensory activity that is particularly beneficial for those living with dementia. Smelling herbs and flowers, touching the soil and seeing brightly coloured flowers, not to mention tasting homegrown fruit and vegetables, all help people to connect with their surroundings and enjoy moments of calm. Simply being outdoors and feeling the sunshine, rain and wind on their faces or hearing birdsong are simple pleasures that can be enjoyed with carers or visiting family and friends.
Many residents will have spent many years enjoying their own gardens or visiting garden centres as a sociable pastime. Continuing these interests is a great way to help people feel settled in their new home and brings together people with shared interests and hobbies. Doing simple jobs around the garden can give people a sense of purpose which can be lost when they move from their own home.
“Here at Beech Lodge Care & Nursing Home we have two male residents that don't particularly like to join in with activities or leave their rooms. But since talking to them about our CC in bloom competition and asking them to help in the garden, they have been keen to get involved.” Said Jodie Clayton, Well-being Coordinator at Beech Lodge Care & Nursing Home. “One is actively seeking me out to water the garden daily and the other has help me with one of our projects, spray-painting a bike and planting sunflower seeds. It’s great to see them both interacting with some other residents now too”.
From ambitious garden revamp projects to simple jobs around the garden it’s great to encourage everyone to enjoy the outdoors. To find out more about life at Country Court Care Homes contact the Home Manager at your nearest Country Court Care Home.