Creating an outdoor space at a care home involves thoughtful consideration to cater to the needs and wellbeing of residents. Here are five essential elements that such a space shouldn’t be without.

Accessible Paths and Seating Areas
In care home gardens, ensuring accessible paths and seating areas is paramount to fostering inclusivity and enhancing residents’ wellbeing. These paths should be thoughtfully designed, free of obstacles and sufficiently wide to accommodate wheelchairs and mobility aids. Incorporating ramps and handrails where necessary ensures ease of movement for individuals with limited mobility. Equally important are well-placed seating areas throughout the garden, providing opportunities for residents to rest, socialise and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of nature. These seating areas should offer sturdy, comfortable seating options with back support and shade for protection from the elements. By prioritising accessibility in garden design, care homes can create welcoming outdoor spaces that promote independence, social interaction and overall quality of life for their residents.

Safety Features
Safety features in a care home garden are paramount for ensuring the security of residents, particularly those with limited mobility or cognitive impairments. Installing handrails along pathways and steps provides stability for those who require support while navigating the garden. Additionally, adequate lighting along pathways and in common areas allows residents to safely enjoy the garden during the evening hours, and reduces the risk of accidents. Incorporating non-slip surfaces in outdoor seating areas minimises the risk of slips, especially during wet or icy conditions. Fences or barriers around potentially hazardous areas such as ponds or steep slopes are essential to prevent accidents. Finally, regular inspections and maintenance of safety features ensure that they remain effective in promoting a secure and enjoyable outdoor environment for residents of the care home.

Natural Elements and Greenery

The presence of natural elements, such as flowing water features or rock formations, creates sensory stimulation and opportunities for contemplation. Moreover, these gardens provide a nurturing environment for wildlife, inviting birds and butterflies to flourish, enriching the sensory experience for residents. Access to nature has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress and promote overall well-being among seniors.

Shaded Areas and Sun Protection

Many elderly individuals are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses and sunburn, due to aging skin, decreased mobility and underlying health conditions. Providing ample shaded areas, such as pergolas, umbrellas or natural tree canopies, can work to protect residents from excessive sun exposure. Consider the use of UV-resistant materials for outdoor furniture, and encourage residents to wear hats and sunscreen when spending time outdoors.

Engaging Activities and Amenities

Design the outdoor space to accommodate a variety of activities and interests. This may include gardening areas, bird feeders, outdoor games like shuffleboard or bocce ball, sensory gardens or designated areas for relaxation and meditation. Look to reinvent the garden’s look throughout the year by incorporating seasonal plantings and decorations. For example, plant bulbs for spring blooms, decorate with pumpkins and gourds in the fall or hang lights and ornaments during the holiday season. Tailoring activities to the preferences and abilities of residents can also promote social interaction and stimulation.