Planning is underway to construct an outdoor space at Wilson Lodge Aged Care Facility in Sale after it received a grant of over half a million dollars under the Rural Residential Aged Care Facilities Renewal Program.
In consultation with staff and residents of the facility, $570,000 will be used to redesign the outdoor environment to create a dementia friendly area with covered spaces, vegetable and herb gardens and sensory paths.
Acting Director Residential Aged Care, Caron Mallet, said a purpose built area would create friendly and inclusive environments that supported social connection between residents, families and the broader community.
She said COVID-19 had reinforced the value of being connected.
“Evidence suggests that people diagnosed with dementia in Wellington Shire will increase annually by five per cent,” Ms Mallet explained.
“Wilson Lodge is a key provider supporting people living with dementia, with a model of care that supports a restraint-free environment and uses non-pharmalogical interventions to minimise anxiety. Having access to great outdoor spaces will support this as well as promote social and community connections.”
Sensory stimulation activities are important for triggering positive emotions and memories for people living with dementia.
“Things like pathed walkways to promote safe wandering amongst scented gardens, and growing vegetables and herbs they are familiar with to use in the cooking groups to support independence and meaningful engagement are some of the elements that will be included in the design,” Ms Mallet said.
Research indicates that spending time in nature can have the following positive impacts in individuals:
- Helps people recover from illness quicker
- Reduces stress and lowers blood pressure
- Helps a person maintain circadian rhythms
- Aids in the natural absorption of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight for brief periods of time, which is important for maintaining strong bones.
“Gardens and outdoor environments are being increasingly reintroduced as important factors for enhancing the quality of life of people living with dementia,” Ms Mallet explained.
“We are very excited at the opportunity to introduce this unique element of care to Wilson Lodge residents and their families.”