Why a garden is so important for Dorchester care homes

Published: Friday 5th June 2020

If you’re searching for care homes in Dorchester, Dorset’s county town will offer you lots of choices. But you may be wondering how to decide between them.

While you’ll probably compare the quality of the care, the experience of the care team and the building’s facilities, have you thought about the home’s outside environment?

Residents in the garden at Cheriton Care Home

What should a care home garden be like?

Plenty of the Dorchester nursing homes and care homes will have a garden, but not all gardens are created equal. The best care home gardens are safe and secure spaces, with plenty of room for all residents – whatever their level of mobility – to be able to get outside and feel the sunshine on their faces.

Paths should be level and wide enough to accommodate walking frames and wheelchairs, and there need to be spots to sit and chat, or to watch the local birdlife. Added to that, the garden will ideally have space to be in the shade on sunny days.

The garden at Cheriton Care Home

The Cheriton Care Home garden

At Cheriton (Agincare’s care home in Dorchester), the garden offers residents ample space to enjoy the outdoors.

Lots of activities take place outside when the weather’s fine, including meetings of the Cheriton gardening club. And during warmer months, the care team encourages residents to eat outside, enjoying the Dorset sunshine and chatting with others.

Many of the bedrooms at Cheriton Care Home open out onto the garden. The patio doors give residents a great view of all that the Dorset weather and the changing seasons bring. The patios are also the ideal spot for bird-feeders. We do all we can to encourage birds into the garden, making sure the feeders are filled with tasty treats!

We’re very lucky to have an extra-special ‘wildlife’ resident in our Dorchester residential care home’s garden. Trot the tortoise belongs to a member of the team, and is quite the celebrity at Cheriton, spending his summers in the home’s garden.

Residents and Cheriton’s activity co-ordinator give Trot a bath once a month. He also regularly receives edible gifts from residents, who’ve been round the garden picking dandelion leaves for the tortoise.

How a garden benefits care home residents

Many of our more active residents love to get stuck into the garden. Potting, digging and pruning are practical ways for them to use their fine motor skills. These skills are essential for other independent tasks, such as feeding yourself.

And simply taking a few steps around our level garden helps other less mobile residents exercise gross motor skills, which help with strength and balance. Our garden is also accessible for wheelchairs, which means everyone can enjoy our lovely outdoors space in a way which suits them.

Plants in pots at Cheriton Care Home

Giving residents choice and control

We involve our residents in choosing what they’d like in the garden. It’s a way of giving them some choice and control over their environment.

Our garden projects and activities are a fun and sociable way to be active outside. They engage residents physically and mentally and involve them and our care team in their communal space.

Residents plant seeds and nurture seedlings, seeing them grow and bloom. When they harvest the herbs, fruit or vegetables they have a massive sense of achievement.

Gardening and dementia

A garden can provide stimulation for residents living with dementia. The scents, colours and names of different flowers can act as prompts for reminiscence. And simply being outside, or taking a stroll around the garden with a member of the care team, can be incredibly calming.