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A few suggestions have been made by gardeners in the Trellis network and are set out below.
Please send us your top tips for keeping your gardening mojo and supporting others too!
How do you maintain the garden and crop when garden users are not keen on weeding or cultivation?
- Use mulches and weed suppressant matting to reduce weeds
- Rebrand 'weeding' and make it more appealing. Usually there is one person who enjoys weedingusethem to promote it and describe why they like it
- Rebrand weeding as 'roguing' Display a pictorial 'Rogues gallery' and route them out!
- Promote weeding as recycling - old weeds for new compost to nurture the other plants
- Recruit weeding or maintenance volunteers
- Use the desirable activities as a reward for completing the less desirable jobs
- Promote responsibility as an intrinsic motivation e.g. feeding animals
- Encourage individual efforts to improve the environment for others e.g. clearing snow from paths, tidying up etc
Activity co-ordinators and care staff come up against barrires to gardening in rigid roles and timetables and limited staffing. Another barrier is that even when garden therapies are seen to be useful it is not the NHS or Local Authority delivering these services. Third sector (voluntary sector) offer specialist services and patients/residents are referred out so staff are not involved and do not see therapeutic gardening happening.
Some suggestions to overcome some of these barriers include:
- introduce short gardening activties at first (can be indoor , table top)
- ask for staff volunteers to help
- the expectations of support workers capacity to take part in gardening sessions may be too high. Do not underestimate the importance of tea breaks as socialising experiences and opportunities to develop and share plans and ideas.
- Link with local groups to help with gardening sessions e.g. Womens Guild, schools
- Risk : some managers perceive outdoors as more risky. As an integral part of building/retaining identity and autonomy, its important for clients to be able to determine their own level of risk and to explore and identify their limits which can then be pushed in later sessions.
- Rainy days and cold weather : rain can be an adventure and adds an additional sensory dimension to being outdoors. If possible create a covered space outdoors for working or use an indoor space such as a greenhouse or a conservatory for year round gardening activity.
- Clients with sensory impairment can enjoy feeling extremes of weather as their usual indoor environment can be effectively sensory deprivation. Exploration of the natural environment on their own terms is important to well being and health
- Therapeutic gardening as a prophylactic therapy - children and adults need exposure to outdoor activity in order to build resilience to prevent mental ill health. Its important for us all to have alteranatives to passive screen time.
- Therapeutic gardening and being outdoors can be very effective in helping people to manage Challenging Behaviours
Residents - less agitation, happier, more opportunities to socialise
Staff - job progression, reduces task orientated nature of job, less boring and more enjoyable work, creates bonds through shared activities with clients and staff
Organisation as a whole - reduced staff absenteeism and turnover, more flexible, skilled staff, word of mouth recommendations so more business and good quality care noted.
Community - residents integration with community through gardening activities with community groups, their families .
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of therapeutic gardening please contact Trellis