Malden House in Sidmouth has proudly unveiled a new sensory garden for residents and guests to enjoy.
The garden has been carefully planned not only to be aesthetically pleasing but also to have multiple health and wellbeing benefits for residents who live with dementia. Dementia is commonly associated with memory loss, poor concentration and feeling disoriented and confused so the garden has become a vital part of daily life at the care home on Sidford Road.
Taking eight weeks to plan and create, the sensory space began with shopping for plants and seeds and consulting with the residents to create a vision for the space.
Tsafir Gryman, who is the maintenance man responsible for the garden, says: “We always wanted to include scented and edible plants because they have a positive effect on the body, mind and home. There’s something satisfying about nurturing a plant and our residents have been involved with the whole process from beginning to end. We actively encourage our residents to have a hands-on attitude to dig in and get their hands dirty because that is part of the fun!”
The 19 bed home, registered to care for older people and those living with dementia, was awarded four ‘outstanding’ stars for being well-led, responsive, caring and effective in May this year and the new facility demonstrates an ongoing commitment to quality care.
Malden House is proud to use sensory stimulation as a type of therapy for those living with dementia. This method of care encourages residents to engage in activities that stimulate the senses such as taste, sound, smell, touch and sight.
The goal is to encourage residents and guests to have an emotional reaction, so they can benefit from the sensory experiences and environment around them, including:
spatial awareness: the design and layout aim to heighten a person’s awareness of what is around them with items of different colours, shapes and sizes
positive plants: ‘Lavender Alley’ is a special area with therapeutic properties and the herb garden provokes fond memories of cooking - some are used to prepare and flavour meals at the home
vsiting wildlife: the bird feeder bird and watch area and bug village encourage insects and wildlife such as bees, butterflies and insects to form a part of the natural habitat
accessible space: the sensory garden is wheelchair friendly with plants and items easily positioned for those who have restricted mobility
green house activity: growing flowers, seeds, vegetables, wild flower seeds are nurtured by the residents
productive props: the garden includes a bike, a nautical coloured beach hut and a small row boat to encourage memories of beach holidays and general conversation
wine garden: a few years ago, the care home decided to plant grape trees that have come to fruition in time for the sensory garden to be opened. The residents find this amusing and have suggested they should make their own wine
the craft cross – this is where arts and craft creations are displayed. At present there are beautiful hand painted pebbles, glass balloons and brightly coloured mushrooms to provide visual motivation and interest.
Registered manager, Agnieszka Orlowska, comments: "From the moment our residents step in to the garden, we want to take them on a journey of the senses - to touch, taste, smell, hear and see all the wonderful things around them. We put a lot of thought into choosing items that will promote talking points of interest, to create funny moments, laughter, memories and new special times with families when they visit.
"Our garden is great for all ages, especially the grand children that visit so it will help the two generations to explore the sensory space together. I am very proud of the whole team because they have all contributed to this achievement to provide care, comfort and companionship in an environment that is safe and happy for all."