Care home gardening project praised

Care home staff in Hampshire and Berkshire have praised gardening charity Thrive, for teaching them good ways to garden both indoors and outdoors with their residents.

Thrive, a leading charity in the UK that uses gardening as a therapeutic tool to help people with disabilities or ill health, has just completed a successful project at 14 care homes.

A trained horticultural therapist from Thrive took gardening activities into care homes working directly with residents and passing valuable skills onto staff so the gardening session could continue once Thrive had left.

Results from the project – funded by Comic Relief and The Rayne Foundation – showed high numbers of residents took part. There was a great level of enthusiasm shown by staff as well who took part in a weekly programme of activities which took account of the varying needs of residents.

Gardening proved to be an excellent draw for both residents and staff and included activities such as table-top gardening where residents would create hanging baskets, take cuttings and pot on or sow seeds.

Using Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) in this way shows gardening as an accessible and inclusive activity for many who thought it was no longer possible to take part. Thrive used indoor and outdoor spaces to show what can be achieved.

More than 100 gardening sessions were held at care homes in Berkshire and the charity visited care homes in Bracknell, Hungerford, Kintbury, Newbury, Reading, Thatcham and Wokingham. In Hampshire Thrive went to Aldershot, Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, Bishops Waltham and Winchester.

Project Manager, Paul Scott explained that they had initially hoped 112 residents would take part but the actual number was 185, so the charity was delighted to have had such a high level of participation: “The project had a number of aims,” he said. “We wanted to see increased activity among residents and physical benefits such as an improvement in peoples’ gross and fine motor skills.

Paul points out that psychological benefits were witnessed too, achieved through residents gaining a sense of hope, meaning and purpose through gardening.

Thrive knows that gardening in this structured way also leads to residents feeling a sense of accomplishment with the ability to undertake and achieve activities independently. All activities took into account varying needs ensuring that there was maximum opportunity for inclusion and participation. The increase in social interaction for both residents and staff at all the care homes was applauded and seen as one of the key benefits of the programme.

As one activities co-ordinator pointed out, they had a lot of gardening tools but lacked the knowledge and so were delighted from the huge benefit the programme had provided.

For many residents in care homes, gardening had been important in their lives and the project has allowed people to reignite their interest and show residents how they can continue to garden.

Pictured left above is Zinnia ‘Lilliput Purple’ which has small and perfectly formed pompom flowers. Thrive will receive a donation for each packet sold and is available from Chiltern Seeds website or via their catalogue.

Thrive offer a training and consultancy service if homes would like advice on how to develop their garden space. Contact training@thrive.org.uk for details.

 

Photo credit: ©Thrive. Banner picture: Leslie and Dennis with Daron Gardener.

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