Woolworths Secret Harbour approached Bethanie Waters in Port Kennedy with the offer of donating its older fresh flowers on a weekly basis, and the provider was keen to accept.
Weekly flower arranging sessions are now enjoyed by around 10 residents, and both the sessions and having flowers around the home is having a great effect, particularly for those living with dementia.
“The residents with dementia are engaging in a previously meaningful activity that stimulates many senses - vision, touch and smell,” explains Bethanie Waters Occupational Therapist, Skye Scantlebury. “It encourages reminiscence about past experiences with flowers such as gardening, receiving flowers as gifts and picking flowers for arrangements in their own homes.”
She also highlights it encourages social interaction. “Residents with dementia talk while they are arranging the flowers and pass the flowers to each other,” she says.
One resident who was a former florist and owned several shops is enjoying sharing her knowledge in the weekly sessions. “Flowers are full of goodness; having flowers around makes people smile, even when they might be feel a bit down or unwell,” says Joy. She suggests having a bowl of water with your flowers to keep them fresh when arranging them, and to put lemonade in the vase if the flowers are looking a bit sad to freshen them up.
Another resident, Betty says the secret is to not put too many in when making bouquets. “Don’t bulk it up, but spray it out a bit so it looks nice but is still easy to hold,” she says.
Ms Scantlebury says residents with dementia also hand out bouquets to other residents who have a birthday or are unwell.
She says this not only brings a smile to the resident receiving the flowers, but it also helps the residents giving out the flowers feel they are helping, contributing to the community and gives them a sense of purpose.
The fresh flowers are also used as table pieces at meal times, and Ms Scantlebury says this makes residents feel valued and makes it more of a home-like environment.
“Many will actually start talking to each other about the flowers during their meal, even if they were not involved in making the bouquets,” she says.
One resident says: “I like to look at them and smell them and feel them, it makes me feel happy,” and another says “They help me remember when I was young, when I picked flowers in my garden at home.”