Moray UHI students design care home sensory garden

Moray UHI Students have designed sensory garden for Aberlour care home.
Moray UHI Students have designed sensory garden for Aberlour care home.

AN INNOVATIVE GARDEN designed for residents who are living with dementia has been created by students from Moray College UHI.

Horticultural students based on the Elgin campus produced several designs for a sensory garden at Speyside Care Home in Aberlour following discussions with residents, their families and dementia experts.

Working to a brief that was to create a safe, stimulating environment, the students designed the garden so that people with dementia could enjoy the outdoors. Now landscaping work is under way with the new garden expected to be completed this summer.

During the planning process the students were briefed by a dementia specialist from Stirling University on the importance of promoting interaction with the outside environment.

Glen Erskine, manager of Speyside, part of the Parklands Group of care homes, said: “We are delighted to have worked with students from Moray College UHI on this project.

“Research tells us that sensory gardens help to reduce stress and anxiety among residents with dementia. Not only do they provide a safe and relaxing environment in which to enjoy nature, certain plants and flowers can also trigger fond memories from the past.

“We turned to Moray College UHI for help in designing the sensory garden and we are really pleased with the results. The residents are looking forward to enjoying their new look garden.”
Course lecturer Nick Chambers added: “Working with Speyside Care Home has been a great experience for our horticulture students.

“Garden Design is a key aspect of the horticulture courses we offer at Moray College UHI and this project gave something to really inspire the students. From an educational perspective, it has given so much more to their learning than any classroom based task could, from dealing with the client and residents to researching and developing their ideas to meet the needs of those living with dementia.

“I am very pleased with the design ideas each student created, each one is so different, yet each embraces important principles for a garden like this. A garden for people with dementia must be safe, stress free, and easy to orientate around.

“The garden will contain recognisable common garden plants and features that will invoke memories; simple things like a washing line, picket fences or even a post box.”
Parklands Group was recently shortlisted for a Scottish Dementia Award along with partners Robert Gordon University and NHS Highland for their work with people living with dementia.

A student dietician was placed with the group – a first for any care home in the UK – and developed the concept of memory led meals, with specially designed menus, including scotch broth, rabbit stew and clootie dumpling, introduced to trigger memories of favourite meals from wartime.

Parklands Group managing director Ron Taylor added: “This has been a fantastic experience for residents, staff and the students, and we are grateful to Moray College UHI for their invaluable input.”