4th November 2019

Our specialist dementia care home, Haviland House, has opened an impressive indoor garden room, which will provide residents with multi-sensory stimulation.

The team at Haviland, who refer to residents as ‘family members’, embarked on this project back in March 2019 with the vision of bringing the outside world inside.

Gordon, a Haviland House family member, cuts the ribbon with Eileen Garbutt, Haviland's Health & Wellbeing Coordinator

People living with dementia often find hobbies and activities they enjoy more difficult due to inaccessible and unsupportive environments; this includes gardening and visiting outside spaces, where they can become anxious. The ability to garden regardless of the weather and without the anxiety of going outside gives family members the means to take up these activities once more.

Haviland’s lounge area has been transformed into a gardener’s delight, complete with planting tables, garden murals, hanging wicker baskets, a corner shed, a water feature and an LCD TV with window panes which loop live footage of country streams, butterflies and deers in the countryside.


Features of the new garden room

On its official opening, family members enjoyed prosecco, juice and cake as they were able to explore their new garden room, expressing excitement to its possibilities.

Lynne Bluett, Deputy Manager of Haviland said: “It’s gone amazingly well. We knew we wanted to create a garden - that was our remit. It just all came together; all of us had different ideas and as we put those together and it all just started to fall into place.

“We’ve got all the concepts of a garden and allotment and we will be getting tomato plants, trees and a wheelbarrow to put produce in which will just be lovely for family members to help themselves to. How wonderful for our family members to come in and pick a cherry tomato off a vine on the balcony, it’s such an experience they may not have had otherwise.”

This project was made possible by the help of generous volunteers and staff, including Men in Sheds Worthing, a voluntary group of men who get involved in community work. They built three bespoke raised planters that are wheelchair accessible. Also, Mason Jones, a 17-year-old carpentry student at Northbrook College built a grand table out of recycled pallet in eight days, which is a beautiful addition to the room.

Family members, who aren’t strangers to getting their hands dirty, will be able to enjoy planting and tending to the garden’s roses, tulips, daffodils and many other plants.

A Haviland staff member shares a book with family members in the new garden room

Eileen Garbutt, Haviland’s Health & Wellbeing Coordinator, was at the helm of the project, having even discussed its conception in her interview over two years ago. She acknowledged that the great British weather is very restrictive over a care home’s use of outside space and her aim was to abolish this.

She said: “Everything is a real plant in here and family members will be able to get compost in their hands and smell it. We have brought the outside world in, so that our ladies and gentlemen within Haviland House can live an even better life with dementia because they are living well with dementia and this will further enrich and enhance what we already do here in Haviland. It’s a dream come true seeing it now, it’s more than a feeling, it’s real life, that’s what it is and I’m in love with it.”

Eileen, who was recently recipient of the Best Activity Coordinator award from the National Activity Provider Association, used the award money gifted to Haviland to buy the compost, plants and bulbs.

She was also helped to no end by family member Gordon, who cut the opening ribbon. His response when Eileen asked how it had all gone, “Jolly good old girl.”

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