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New Sensory Garden Brings Joy

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St Francis Aged Care in Orange recently completed the planting of a sensory garden, much to the delight of residents and staff.

The new sensory garden is an enclosed garden area tailored to stimulate the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. This is achieved through the careful selection of plants and other materials that engage an individual’s senses.

The idea of planting a sensory garden came from St Francis Aged Care Residential Manager, Sharon. “A lifetime of experience in aged care, discussions with colleagues, learning from YouTube videos, and reading online. I suppose I’ve absorbed all this information over time,” says Sharon.

“The land that we built the garden on was previously sloping and not really used by our residents. Catholic Healthcare is very supportive and helped to make the residents’ environment more engaging and enjoyable for them,” adds Sharon.

The mental and physical health benefits of a sensory garden are many. Access to nature is proven to help people recover from sickness faster, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and assist in the absorption of vitamin D due to exposure to sunlight. Dementia sufferers also benefit from the extra exercise, increased use of motor skills, improved levels of stress and a heightened sense of wellbeing.

Scented roses, succulents, lavender, thyme and Lamb’s Ear feature prominently in the garden. The choice of these plants and flowers was based on their colours, texture and smell; and also on the strong sense of memory and reminiscence that they provide for residents suffering from dementia.

The sensory garden features a new level pathway with a yellow boundary to assist the residents with navigation. At the end of the path is a new developed section, with a seated area of tables and chairs. This sitting area is filled with vibrant pieces, such as a brightly coloured parrot sculpture and a water feature with specially dyed water for visual and audio stimulation.

The garden has become a huge hit with residents.

“The residents love it. They go for a walk on the pathway and then have their morning tea in the seated area. Residents living with dementia don’t produce new memories, however their old memories are still there and recoverable,” says Sharon.

“The sensory garden brings back a memory or recognition for our residents. You can see it on their faces when they touch something. It brings back joy, and that is very special,” adds Sharon.