The Let’s Dig In therapeutic gardening team, at Bolton Clarke Inverpine in Murrumba Downs, is celebrating after winning the Queensland Team category of the Leading Aged Services Australia Awards for Excellence.
Let’s Dig In brings together the Bolton Clarke Research Institute, care team and catering and hospitality staff in a program for residents who volunteer to grow and eat fresh produce.
“We are all thrilled to pieces (with the award). It was a true team effort to get this project off the ground,” Bolton Clarke Research Institute Senior Research Fellow Liz Cyarto says.
The program team is now in the running to challenge for the national award for their category against other state winners.
Growing into new roles
“It was more than just an activity,” says Bolton Clarke Research Institute Fellow Xanthe Golenko. “It was about the overall benefit, so not only the physical wellbeing – increasing residents’ physical activity, but also the social and emotional wellbeing.
“The fact residents were coming together and interacting, sharing knowledge and learning from each other and seeing something they have produced from start to finish, giving a sense of purpose and achievement. It is really fulfilling.”
Launched at Inverpine, residential aged care team members had training from horticultural therapist Cath Manuel in therapeutic horticulture, gardening for those with dementia, therapy gardens, growing fresh food for the kitchen and how to implement a gardening program.
Team members work with residents on activities including seed sowing, propagating cuttings, herb planting, building the vegetable gardens in the raised beds provided and harvesting.
Planting to harvest
Diversional Therapist Rekha Singh says residents have been excited to take ownership of the project from planting and sowing to weeding, watering and harvest.
Resident Marion maintains one of the gardens and has lengthened her regular walks to include twice-daily visits to the garden beds, checking progress and picking flowers for her room. “My love of life and gardening has returned,” she says.
Resident Gloria’s window overlooks the garden and she has become the unofficial garden security. “I see everyone coming and going,” she says. “I know if we’re getting too overzealous with picking the flowers or watering the vegetables.”
Catering team members are working produce from the gardens into new menus, turning the first harvest of capsicum, basil, silver beet and pak choy into a Mongolian stir fry.
The next phase of the pilot program is an extension to the Inverpine Memory Support Unit, where the gardening activities will be for residents with dementia.
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