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Aug 18

Gardening activities support wellbeing in social care

Posted: 17 August 2018

This week is Allotment Week and we know that getting outside and doing meaningful activities can improve the health and wellbeing of people who access care and support. As part of our #happyworkplace campaign we've spoken to a care provider in Sussex about the gardening projects they do. 

"In our service we have enclosed gardens where we grow vegetables, have sensory flower beds and peaceful seating areas. Our garden plays a key part of our activity programme and it's centred around what the people we support want to do and enjoy doing. 

We’re lucky to have the gardens as part of our service as they’re a place of peace and relaxation for everybody to appreciate, for both people who are accessing care and support and our staff. The sense of wellbeing and contentment that the sights, sounds and smells from the garden offer is clear to see from the actions and attitudes of the people who use them.

The gardening project is often an extension of an individual’s home life. Very often people have tended their own gardens and taken pride and pleasure in doing so and we provide the support they now need to do this.

It’s heart-warming to see those taking part in the project feeling pride in their work, whether this is when the flowers finally bloom after weeks of waiting, or immediately with a sense of achievement in their freshly de-weeded plant-bed ready for the new plants or vegetables.

Man painting a gnomeOur gardening project is ongoing, with new and old projects starting and finishing all the time. We’re always thinking about what we can do next. Not all projects involve weeding and planting.

We currently have a popular gnome restoration project on the go. We were given three concrete garden gnomes and already had a toadstool table. All were in a poor state of repair, so those taking part in the project have worked hard to restore them.  These projects provide a sense of purpose and responsibility for those involved, which is really important for their wellbeing.

We’ve recently built a chicken coup ready for our next project ‘Stroking hens’. One of the people we support was really enthusiastic in helping to build the coup. He’s an individual who isn’t able to communicate verbally and is less engaged with staff than some of the other people we support. He took a role in the whole process, from using a screwdriver, checking instructions and diagrams. He loved it and was so very proud of the end result.

 John’s story

Man pushing a lawnmowerJohn has always had a love of the outdoors. When he was younger he helped his father at the farm. John enjoys spending time in the garden and regularly maintains the grounds of the lodge - it’s the perfect project for him, as it centres on his interests and life experiences.

During the summer, John mows the lawns and takes great pride in his work. The grounds are quite large which really helps with his physical fitness. It’s a meaningful activity that other residents and staff members appreciate and praise him for a good job. The sense of purpose this activity provides supports his wellbeing, both mentally and physically.

In the winter, John helps to keep the outdoor areas tidy - he’ll lay grit in the icy months and help out with small odd jobs. You can really see a lift in John’s mood when he’s out working in the gardens.

John’s activities don’t just start and finish in the garden. He’s supported by a dedicated activities coordinator and our maintenance worker, who supports John in the community. They’ve developed a good rapport which benefits John socially.  The local community club hosts ‘The men’s club’ twice a week, where a community of men meet to take part in their favourite hobbies. John works in carpentry and has made bird tables and other objects for their garden.

It’s great to see the positive impact that the gardening project activities have brought on the wellbeing of those people accessing our care and support services. It’s clear to see and it makes me feel really happy to see that we can make a big difference through our work.

Follow the campaign on twitter #happyworkplace  #makingactivitycount