Gardens can provide people living with dementia access to fresh air, sunshine and exercise, and in turn, research has shown access to gardens can lead to reduced stress, anxiety, depression and agitation. For those without a garden at their residence, community gardens offer a great alternative with added opportunities for socialisation.
DIGnity Supported Community Gardening is a joint initiative between the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Rural Health and three neighbourhood houses and gardens in the South East of Tasmania. With support from Dementia Australia’s Community Engagement Program, DIGnity has put together a guide for other community gardens on how to become more dementia-friendly.
Since it began in 2016, DIGnity Supported Community Gardening has offered a therapeutic outdoor environment for community members with physical or learning disabilities, cognitive constraints, and people who are socially isolated due to grief, chronic conditions or other reasons.
The DIGnity Gardening Companion Guide was developed alongside participants from DIGnity’s gardening groups, including people living with dementia. Their ideas and suggestions for how to make community gardening groups more successful for people living with dementia have been included in the guide.
Hannah Fielder, the Project Coordinator for DIGnity Supported Community Gardening, said tips in the guide include how to create a casual and friendly garden, how to make the space accessible, safe and comfortable for everyone, and suggestions for different types of activities for participants to do during their visit.
“Not everyone likes gardening we found, so it’s always great to have other activities like cooking or art to do as well,” Ms Fielder said.
Ms Fielder also commented on the importance of making people living with dementia feel included in the community and the benefits of incorporating intergenerational activities.
“People with dementia want to come into a community garden and spend time with other people in a real-life setting, so adults, children, older people, and people from all walks of life.”
For more information about DIGnity, visit their website at www.dignitygardening.com
Are you interested in what this could look like in your community?
The first step is to become a Dementia Friend. Find out more at dementiafriendly.org.au or call our National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.