Therapeutic Gardening: A Factor in Choosing Healthcare Facilities
❦ Does the garden give a For more informationhome-like feel? Check these additional publications in thePlants are memory-prompters and can lead to Therapeutic Gardening Series:“I remember when” stories. Typical plants you • Benefits for Healthcare Facilities, RG 109might expect to see in a Midwest residential • Creating Raised Bed Planters, RG 111healthcare facility would include roses, lilacs, • Gardening Tips for Older Adults, RG 107peonies, daylilies, and hollyhocks. • Resources, RG 110❦ Are there opportunities Check these Web sites:for active involvement? ISU Extension Distribution CenterInvolvement in the care of the garden can Online Store—provide meaningful activity, and can be www.extension.iastate.edu/storecomforting to residents, families, staff, andcommunity members. Gardening also provides ISU Horticulture— www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.eduphysical exercise and activity that can haveimportant positive physical and emotionalhealth benefits. Reiman Gardens— A Factor in❦ Is horticultural programming www.reimangardens.iastate.edu If you want to learn more about horticulture Choosingoffered to residents?Horticultural activities and opportunities to through training and volunteer work, ask your ISU Extension office for information about the ISU Extension Master Gardener program. Healthcare Facilitiesbe outdoors should be regularly scheduled.Activities can be as simple as a spring picnic ora container gardening competition. Regularly Prepared by Susan Erickson, PLaCE Programscheduled outdoor gatherings should be a part Coordinator; Cindy Haynes, extension horticul-of every healthcare facility’s programming. turist; and Diane Nelson, extension communi-Garden locations, when well designed, can be cation specialist. Illustrations by Jane Lenahan,successfully used for physical, occupational, extension graphic designer.and recreation therapy. Therapists often findthat patients get more enjoyment out of out-door therapy and therefore also receive morebenefit from the therapy. File: Hort and LA 2Therapeutic gardens can be an important fac- Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department oftor in easing the transition between home and Agriculture. Jack M. Payne, director, Cooperative Extension Service,other housing situations. Garden spaces may Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa.allow continuation of hobbies, such as growing . . . and justice for all The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discriminationtomatoes or nurturing roses, that were formerly in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, nationalenjoyed in a home setting. Best practices at a origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited baseshealthcare facility include offering comforting apply to all programs.) Many materials can be made available inand inviting amenities both indoors and alternative formats for ADA clients. To file a complaint of discrimi- nation, write USDA, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whittenoutdoors for patients, visitors, and staff. Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964. RG 108 May 2006
E valuating a healthcare facility for yourself ❦ Can you access the garden? Facilities with quality therapeutic gardens ❦ What kind of seating is available? Seating should be provided for all types ofor a loved one is a daunting task. Factors suchas location, staff qualifications, and staff to provide safe, unrestricted access for residents weather and all times of day. Benches andresident ratios are just a few of the important and their guests. Safety is a primary concern individual chairs with arm rests plus both sta-considerations. so some type of enclosure may be necessary. tionary and moveable seating should be offered. Some residents will require assistance and/or Also look for seating that accommodates bothBut what about the outdoor amenities? supervision in the garden. Ideally, daily access individuals alone in quiet contemplation plusWell-designed landscapes provide therapeutic to the outdoors should be available for all resi- small and large groups for conversation and tobenefits to physical, emotional, and mental dents when weather conditions permit. watch neighborhood activity.health. Families, visitors, and staff all experi-ence an enhanced quality of life when acces- Directional signs should be in evidence to ❦ Does the garden include placessible outdoor spaces are available. help visitors find the garden and invite them of interest and activities for families to enter. and children as well as residents?Research has shown what many of us already Families and friends tend to visit more often ifsense is true: exposure to nature is therapeutic ❦ Do the gardens include paved there is something to do. Paved pathways, birdto humans and offers many positive physical pathways for walking? feeders, sculptures, and colorful plantings canand emotional benefits. Patients who spend Pathways should have a smooth, non-skid sur- enhance a visit to a loved family member. Addi-10 minutes or more in a garden have been face and be wide enough for two wheelchairs tional garden features that could prompt visitorshown to have improvements in behavior, to pass. Paving may be tinted to reduce glare. interest might include a playhouse for youngpulse rate, blood pressure, weight, and visitors, watering cans and access to water,vitamin D levels. Looped pathways with landmarks (benches, garden-size chess or checkers, or a putting green. bird feeders, wind chimes) allow residents toConsider the following questions when visiting find their way without becoming disoriented. ❦ Does the garden provide luxuriouspotential healthcare facilities. foliage with abundant flowers? Thriving foliage and flowers are pleasant to see,❦ Are attractive outdoor touch, and smell, and have been proven to bespaces available? stress-relievers. Sick or deadEvery healthcare facility should have some out- plants can bring negativedoor space. For maximum therapeutic benefit thoughts so a well-outdoor spaces should include a profusion of maintained garden islush vegetation and flowers; a water feature for important to emotionalsoothing sound and sight; pleasant open views; and mental health.visible wildlife, such as birds and butterflies;and sounds of nature, such as rustling leavesand grasses.A well-designed therapeutic garden providesopportunity for exercise to help increase muscletone, quiet spaces for meditiation, gatheringplaces for conversation, sensory reminders,and stress relief.