Connecting people with dementia, community gardens and the aged care system:
Tips for collaboration
Tips for community gardeners
If you want to engage with people with dementia, connecting through a service provider can be a good option.
Many facilities are supportive of gardening programs and can organise access to transport.
Work in partnership with facility staff and group participants to check the safety and suitability of the physical environment.
Connecting with a local service provider is likely to be the most fruitful option. Our participants have found that 30 to 40 minutes is the maximum comfortable journey time to get from home to the garden (by bus or car). Any longer, and it’s too far.
Many people with dementia live at home in the community. Support flexible access to the garden for everyone in the community: some people will want the freedom to come and go independently from a community garden; others prefer to work in with an established program with times and dates.
Tips for aged care providers
People who are coming to community gardens from day centres or residential care facilities depend on the facility managers to be flexible and show lots of support for the gardening program.
Activity programming is another area for management support, where facility staff may stick to a pre-agreed plan (‘Let’s go back to the centre now – the concert is starting soon’) rather than being flexible and sensitive to people’s feelings and needs (‘I want to stay in the garden to finish this’).
Find Out More
Look at the key findings here, in the box on p18. Authors Mark Rendell and Debbie Carroll, both garden designers, worked with 17 care facilities to see how they support people with dementia to use the garden – and concluded that enjoyment of a garden hinges more on the people involved in facilitating the experience than the garden itself.
Practical information on how care facilities can make their garden and outdoor areas more dementia-friendly – including cost implications, risk and safety issues, and a design checklist.