Community Sensory Garden Officially Open

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integratedliving’s new community sensory garden, aimed at helping improve quality of life for those living with dementia opened in Port Stephens on Friday December 11, officiated by The Hon. Bob Baldwin Federal Member for Paterson.

The garden, which is the first of its kind in the region that is not attached to an aged care facility, is an initiative of integratedliving Australia in recognition of the need for people living with dementia, seniors, frail and aged community members and community groups to have access to a safe, secure and tranquil outdoor space.

The name “Bills Backyard” was revealed and pays tribute to one of our long standing volunteers the late William “Bill” Pringle, a devoted and tireless volunteer who generously dedicated his time to helping those in need and particularly to our Port Stephens Aboriginal social support consumers.

The opening commenced with a cleansing smoking ceremony performed by Worimi Elder Leigh Ridgeway and was followed by Welcome to Worimi Country by fellow Worimi Elder Neville Lilley.

CEO Catherine Daley thanked the many supporters who were present, gratefully acknowledging contributions from the local community, with special mention for funding received from the department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Family and Community Services, major sponsorship by Raymond Terrace Bowling Club and planning, development and ongoing support from Port Stephens Council.

Catherine said “Sensory gardens like this one provide therapeutic activities for those living with dementia, to maximise retained cognitive and physical abilities and lessen the confusion and agitation often associated with the condition. Gardens and outdoor environments are increasingly being re-introduced as an important support tool in the care, behaviour management and contributor to the quality of life of people living with dementia.”

“Research indicated physical as well as visual access to nature had many health benefits for the aged including recovering from illness quicker, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, assisting with better sleep patterns and aiding the natural absorption of vitamin D which is important for maintaining strong bones. Activities encourage use of motor skills like walking and bending, reduces stress levels and promote relaxation. There are also many mental benefits such as increased abilities in decision-making, self-control and increased confidence and self-esteem.”

“This has a flow on effect for caregivers also as the improved condition of their loved one reduces the worry and stress for them also.”

During the planning process several organisations were consulted and provided support with information on design and plant selection to best suit the garden and we would like to acknowledge them as follows: Alzheimers Australia NSW – Hunter Dementia & Resource Centre, Dungog & District Retirement Living Ltd – Lara Aged Care, Hunter Valley Gardens, Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, Hunter New England Health – Wallsend Day Centre and UnitingCare – Starrett Lodge Aged Care, Hunter Institute of TAFE NSW.

Access to the garden is available to integratedliving Activity Centre and respite consumers. Please phone Care Services on 1300 782 896. You can view PDF of our promotional brochures here.

For more information see Sensory Garden Opening article and photos by the Port Stephens Examiner here.

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