Garden ‘paradise’ for residents

Garden ‘paradise’ for residents.

Photo: Garden ‘paradise’ for residents.

Residents at South Australia’s Resthaven Paradise aged care facility are enjoying the “fresh air and sunshine” in their garden, which recently won an award for its design.

The garden landscape was not just any makeover though; it was designed and transformed into a therapeutic haven for residents, including those living with dementia.

The site underwent a major redevelopment which commenced in 2008 and was completed early last year. Substantial improvements were required to meet current and future expectations, standards and government guidelines, and Resthaven self-funded the major upgrade at a cost of more than $20 million. Pictured is the garden's rose reminiscence feature.

South Australian landscape architecture firm, Designwell, designed the garden landscape, winning an International Dementia Excellence Commendation Award at the Hammond Care Dementia Conference in Sydney recently.

Designwell were commissioned to design a variety of landscape solutions that would re-invigorate the resident’s connection to nature, improve their sense of wellbeing and enhance their quality of life.

By using a layered approach, each garden setting created environments moving beyond functional and visual spaces into interactive and inclusive environments.

The gardens were specifically designed to improve the health and wellbeing of the residents through enhanced sensory stimulation, meaningful daily activities, and reminiscence and to be used as tools for a range of therapies including horticultural therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and diversional therapy.

Designwell’s principal landscape architect, Tara Cochrane, told DPS News they “tried to tease out” the residents’ interests.

She added it was particularly important for residential aged care gardens to have a purpose in a residents’ life.

“A well designed garden will likely improve the health and wellbeing of a person, particularly those living with aged care facilities who lose their awake/sleep cycle and don’t get enough vitamin D.

“It also creates opportunities for residents to talk to each other. One of the hardest things about growing old is the isolation that comes with it. An outside environment is there to engage and make people want to be out there,” Ms Cochrane said.

Sue Springbett, Resthaven Paradise’s manager of residential care services, tells DPS News the new garden has enabled residents to be in a “safe and secure environment”.

“Activities are planned around this garden and it incorporates lifestyle activities. The residents use this area a lot and their favourite feature appears to be the raised garden bed where they grow vegetables.”