In a time where enriching lives is of utmost priority, it’s down to care providers to embrace innovative solutions that improve the wellbeing of care home residents. As part of our sustainability focus, we look into how offering gardening as an activity can provide a plethora of benefits to both residents and care homes alike. 

Introducing gardening as an activity in care homes can have numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits for residents. Gardening can provide a holistic and therapeutic experience that enhances overall wellbeing of those involved.

Partaking in gardening involves a physical demand due to activities including digging, planting, weeding, and watering, which can contribute to improved mobility, flexibility, and strength. Engaging in these activities can therefore help residents maintain or regain motor skills, coordination, and balance.

“Being in contact with nature has proven therapeutic effects, promoting relaxation and reducing feelings of isolation.”

Gardening requires planning, problem-solving, and decision-making, promoting cognitive function. It also provides a sensory-rich environment with different textures, colours, and scents, stimulating the brain and enhancing cognitive abilities.

The act of nurturing plants and witnessing their growth can instill a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and satisfaction amongst residents, providing excitement around the journey. In line with this, gardening has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

As well as something that can be done solo, gardening can be a group activity, fostering a sense of community and encouraging social interaction among residents. It provides an opportunity for residents to share experiences, stories, and knowledge with each other.

Being in contact with nature has proven therapeutic effects, promoting relaxation and reducing feelings of isolation. Gardening engages multiple senses, including touch, sight, smell, and sometimes taste, which also enhances sensory stimulation. These sensory activities can be especially beneficial for residents with dementia, helping to evoke memories and improve overall mood.

Residents can take pride in the fruits of their labour, whether it’s blooming flowers, fresh vegetables, or herbs. This works perfectly in line with a home’s sustainable efforts as home-growing fruit and vegetables will not only lessen your carbon footprint, but it also offers residents their very own project.

Whilst many residents will have varied abilities, gardening activities can be adapted to accommodate a plethora of residents with varying physical abilities, making it an inclusive and accessible activity for all.

Assigning an in-house activities co-ordinator or bringing in an external operator to carry out horticultural therapy, a structured therapeutic program involving gardening, can have positive effects on mental health, emotional wellbeing, and overall quality of life.

Taking pride in the on-site gardens can contribute to the overall aesthetics of the care home, providing a visually pleasing and calming environment for residents, staff and potential residents who are visiting.

Green spaces also have the potential to improve air quality and create a more positive atmosphere.

Introducing gardening as an activity in care homes requires thoughtful planning, accessibility considerations, and trained staff or volunteers to guide and support residents. It can significantly contribute to a more vibrant and fulfilling living experience for those in care.