Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2011 Contents that gardens cannot be
therapeutic and supportive on
"Yes we should provide
resources for landscapers,
develop showcase gardens
to take them to and offer
workshops on good dementia
design. But the heart of
the matter is that you
can't separate the physical
environment from the
social environment and
"You can have the best
garden in the world but if you
have a bad care culture where
the door is locked and the staff
are divorced from the process,
it won't reach its potential.
Some places very risk averse.
They try to minimise risk to
the nth degree," he says.
"The first step is to unlock
the door to the garden." n
* in the southern
hemisphere this rule applies to
the northern side of buildings
Annie Pollock is one of
the international speakers
at HammondCare's 2011
Aged Care' - 23 & 24 June,
2011 at the Australian
Technology Park in Sydney.
She will be speaking on
'the role of the garden in
rehabilitation'. For information,
go to www.hammond.com.au
"Often there is a formula
that might involve a path that
starts and ends in the same
place and they think if they put
in a circular path, that makes
it a dementia garden. And that
becomes the benchmark.
"Put in some lavender
and rosemary bushes and
some covered seating and
you can say it is a 'sensory'
"I've seen several
landscapers come in and put
a gazebo at the other end of
the garden, away from the
entrance and then wonder
why nobody ever goes
there. People with dementia
generally prefer to sit near the
entrance to the garden.
"The first thing I do is
to sit down with the care
workers. They usually know
the patterns of behaviour of
clients, including their seating
there is a strong need to
educate landscapers and
horticulturalists but admits
WHAT MAKES A GOOD
"Gardens designed specifically to support people with
dementia provide therapeutic activities designed to maximize
retained cognitive and physical abilities and lessen the
confusion and agitation often associated with the condition."
-- Gardens that Care: Planning outdoor
environments for people with dementia.
According to Burton, the key elements of good
dementia garden design are access, activities and
"The way the garden is accessed is the first design
challenge, then it is what the garden offers in terms of activities and sensory experiences.
As a first principle, the garden should be clearly visible from inside the building and from the main
living areas -- for both residents and staff - and access should be easy and straightforward.
"There should be points of interest, stop-off points, points of sensory stimulation, discussion areas.
You should be able to walk someone around the garden in 20 minutes or so and along the way have
various stop-off points and things for discussion, depending on the client's needs and what they want
to do. Some want to just sit; some want to smell and taste and hear and see; others want to garden."
Annie Pollock agrees, emphasising that there should be activities and things to do and see all year round.
"Plant it so that there are different things in flower at different times of the year. And think about how
the different plants can be enjoyed.
"You want sensory plants like herbs, where the smell is usually in the leaves, to be accessible
perhaps in raised planters. Perfumed flowers can be less accessible because they release perfume into
the air," she says.
HORSES FOR COURSES
Pollock says it is important for the garden to have activities for participation - as well as places to sit
and watch the activity. And all elements should be appropriate to both the age and cultural background
of the people who use it.
"There might be places where you can dig and plant, somewhere where you can clean a bike or
play a game. But it needs to be age-appropriate and culturally appropriate too.
"People with dementia now were war-time children so things like having a chicken coup will
be easily recognisable and understood but future generations of older people will have different
parameters to design for.
"From a cultural perspective, Jewish people like to eat together in groups whereas other cultures
may find large groups disconcerting or confusing. For western people, pets are usually really important.
But in Islamic cultures, for example, dogs are often viewed as unclean," Pollock said.
"Children's play equipment is always good in a dementia garden too. It encourages children to visit,
provides the opportunity for interaction and may trigger happy memories too."
Elements that can act as a memory trigger and conversation point are always good in dementia
gardens. An old car that can be sat in or polished; or old fashioned furniture and equipment are
popular choices. Burton says he has seen one aged care facility in a wheat belt area that had lots of old
farming equipment and another where a 'musical instruments corner' was put to good use.
KEEPING IT REAL
"I'm an advocate of gardens being used for different things. I'm all for animals and offering
opportunities for activities that have meaning and purpose for the person and that are in sync with the
community they have lived in.
"I'm not a great believer in putting something in an environment that is just window dressing. If you
are going to put in a washing line, why not have a culture of care where people can wash the tea towels
or something and can hang them out?" asks Burton.
"You need to think about how you are going to use it. If you put in garden beds for veggies and the
facility gardener does it all, then that defeats the purpose."
Scottish architect and land-
scape architect, Annie Pollock,
in one of her gardens
Flowers, sunshine and smiles --
Mrs Maya Kuznik of Bupa Narwee
44 | MAY--JUNE2011 | AAA
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