The purpose of the training offered by the company is to identify reasons why outside spaces are not used to their full potential and to explore ways to create a more active and meaningful outside environment for residents, particularly those living with a dementia.
Workshop leaders Debbie Carroll and Mark Rendell are garden designers at Step Change Design Ltd. They have more than 20 years of professional garden design, horticultural and project management experience between them, with particular expertise in designing spaces for health and social care settings.
In 2013, they designed and self-funded a large-scale research project with the participation of 17 care homes across England and Wales into why gardens in care settings, particularly for residents living with dementia, are not more actively used, even when they follow the latest design guidance.
They went on to identify the pivotal role of care home culture in the engagement of the outside space and then produced a set of comprehensive and insightful findings in the form of an innovative and interactive diagnostic tool for the care sector, called The Map, which they presented at this workshop.
The workshop assisted our staff in understanding the role and influence of our cultural practice whereby we either aid or inhibit active and meaningful engagement with the outside space. Using diagnostic tools, we were able to identify our current and anticipated needs for outdoor spaces, including a checklist that aims to reduce gimmicks and infantilising approaches, and to maximise on the long-term adaptability of the spaces.
We were pleased to discover that our approach to outdoor environments already takes into account the specific preferences of individual residents in the sourcing of materials. Our incorporation of the triangle of care philosophy also demonstrates that we place a strong emphasis on seeking the input of residents, their family and friends, and care professionals in the strategic selection not only of materials, but also of activities that are meaningful, enjoyable and familiar to them.
This, coupled with the additional practical skills and ideas that were gleaned on the day, mean that residents and families in our facilities benefit from the full social and psychotherapeutic range of benefits that our external environments offer.