Better Homes and Gardens makeover for dementia care garden

Better Homes and Gardens has partnered with leading health and aged care provider HammondCare in a complete garden makeover at one of its specially designed cottages for dementia care.

The spectacular makeover featured in the Mother’s Day episode screened tonight (May 12) and was located at the cottage which is home for the grandmother of program host Johanna Griggs.

Importance of access to outdoors

General Manager of Residential Care, Angela Raguz, said the idea for the makeover came through the link with Ms Griggs who when visiting her grandmother, became aware of the important role of outdoors spaces in HammondCare’s approach to dementia care.

“This was a 17-year-old garden which did incorporate many good design principles but we’ve continued to learn in this period and there was clearly opportunity for improvements.

“This partnership meant not only provision of a beautiful, safe and functional new garden for residents and families, but the chance to raise awareness about dementia as well as environmental design that enables improved quality of life for people with dementia,” Ms Raguz said

“There were obviously challenges in having a major television program being produced in the backyard of a cottage which is, of course, the home of residents. But there was great enthusiasm from residents, their families and staff to see the garden go ahead and we haven’t been disappointed.

“It became a community activity with staff and others volunteering to assist in some of the gardening often being overseen by interested residents and family members.

Good design for dementia care

Enjoying a walk after the new garden had been revealed by Better Homes and Garden.

“The Better Homes and Gardens presenters and crew were very committed to developing their understanding of good design for dementia care and were successful in implementing many evidenced-based design principles.

“Among other things, they spoke extensively with HammondCare and Dementia Centre staff, and also turned to our book Designing Outdoor Spaces for People with Dementia.”

These design features included:

  • contrasting edges and wider paths to assist way-finding and mobility
  • a destination point with seating to give people confidence to venture out
  • no dead ends or blocked paths
  • clear lines of sight across the garden
  • repainting fences to blend into the landscape
  • safe, non-prickly and familiar plants
  • raised garden beds for sensory gardens
  • solid, non-tip garden furniture with colour contrast.  

“Many of these features and others recognise that dementia as well as ageing may impact sensory perceptions. Good design can reduce disability and improve independence,” Ms Raguz said.

HammondCare has provided residential dementia care in cottages since the 1990s, following best-practice design principles including:

  • smaller size (8-16 residents)
  • home-like interiors and exteriors
  • non-institutional (medical and other equipment out of sight)
  • plenty of natural light
  • meaningful engagement
  • use of contrasting colours to support sensory impairment
  • fresh meals prepared in the cottage kitchen, and
  • easy access to outdoors.

HammondCare will publish a new book about gardens for people with dementia in September - The Room Outside. Find out more at hammondcaremedia@hammond.com.au

Better Homes and Gardens presenters Johanna Griggs and Jason Hodges, with Johanna's Nan, Mum and Aunts, and HammondCare staff Gina Mulally, Angela Raguz, Jesse Wark and Dawn Routledge.

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