Dementia-friendly garden opens at The Bays Aged Care for residents to connect with nature and family

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Residents of The Bays Aged Care who are living with dementia are now able to enjoy a meaningful outdoor sensory experience.

A garden oasis filled with vibrant and intriguing colours, scents, sounds and textures has become a new therapeutic landscape within our grounds. The dementia-friendly garden has been designed to enhance sensory experiences and provide a safe outdoor enjoyment for residents to interact with nature and spend time with loved ones.

This custom designed space has been made possible thanks to generous funding of a treasured resident’s family and donations from our local community. The garden has been designed to encourage and tempt residents outdoors for both their enjoyment and to enhance their sensory stimulation. Designed with careful thought surrounding safe accessibility, visibility and orientation, the garden has provided a valuable area to encourage regular movement and interaction with others.

The garden is also a valued space to help residents maintain mental acuity and inspire joyful emotions that nature triggers. The garden leads residents on a stimulating journey that doesn’t require them remembering why they are there, or where they’ve come from.

The garden design incorporates strategic positioning of passive and active experiences along a loop path, encouraging residents to independently move from one activity to the next through pure curiosity rather than aided and directed way-finding.

While there is no cure for dementia, multi-sensory stimulation is well regarded in enhancing a sense of purpose and meaning to the lives of those living with advanced stages of neurocognitive disorders. Nature has restorative and stimulating advantages. Physical and visual access to nature offers positive impacts on behaviour, mood and cognition of our residents. Well designed gardens offer multi-sensory stimulation to the primary senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. They also encourage the use of motor skills and can offer a wonderful shared experiences for residents and their loved ones.

As Erina Rewi, General Manager of The Bays Aged Care explains,

“The garden experience will have so many positive impacts for our residents. While dementia may change people’s behavior, these people are still individuals with strong identities, rich lives and meaningful relationships.” “Creating a safe outdoor atmosphere that caters specifically to the orientation and access considerations of our residents is so welcomed. Knowing we can extend our care to experiences in nature for our residents and their families brings comfort, reassurance and peace of mind to everyone”.

Key benefits of sensory gardens for people living with dementia are:

  • Enjoyable form of exercise
  • Increases levels of activity and maintains mobility and flexibility
  • Encourages use of motor skills – walking, reaching, bending, planting seeds and taking cuttings
  • Improves endurance and strength
  • Helps prevent diseases such as osteoporosis
  • Reduces stress levels and promotes relaxation
  • Provides stimulation and interest in nature and the outdoors
  • Improves the sense of wellbeing due to increased social interaction
  • Valued support in the care, management and quality of life

Sensory gardens have become a well-regarded feature of contemporary residential facilities.