New garden for dementia patients

Patients with dementia can put their green fingers to use thanks to the development of a new sensory garden space.

The outside area has been developed on a previously disused balcony area connected to East 18 at University Hospital Llandough.

Patients on the ward were unable to access the ground floor gardens so this new area enables them to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and tend to their favourite plants.

Refocussing Nurse Katherine Martinson was the driving force behind the garden and collaborated with patients and their families to create a safe, friendly and relaxing environment.

Patients chose the plants based on their favourite flowers and plants, with one patient choosing rosemary and sage after reading in a book that these plants can help people with dementia.

Katherine said “The idea came from speaking to the men on the ward who wanted to set up a gardening club as they all had a keen interest in plants and the outdoors.

“We bought some plants but the patients didn’t like looking down through the gaps on the balcony which gave me the idea to ‘turf’ the area which instantly made the area more appealing.

“We had overwhelming donations from relatives which completely covered the cost of the grass and garden furniture, and we even had money left over where we could buy garden games including giant noughts and crosses and bowls.

“The patients really enjoy the area and it’s lovely to see their faces light up when they are out here as they get a lot of enjoyment. They are busy pruning, watering and potting the plants which gives them a sense of normality outside of the ward environment.”

The garden contains brightly coloured and strongly scented plants to provide the sensory experience. This includes tomatoes, courgettes, beans and herbs including rosemary and sage, a curry plant, vanilla plant, strawberries and chives and a nasturtium plant which is edible, as one of the patients loved having them in their garden at home.