Chorley day centre sensory garden will 'stimulate memories' for those with dementia

Staff at a Chorley day centre will soon embark on a sponsored walk, raising money to develop the garden into an interactive sensory space for service users with dementia.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 4:12 pm

Manager Laura Orrell and her staff team at Fosterfields had to help out at other residential care homes across Lancashire during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic when the day centre closed to its service users.

And upon their return, their garden space at the Eaves Lane day centre was "an overgrown and dull".

This was when managers Laura and Shelley decided they wanted to involve the staff in a sponsored walk on April 25 and raise money to transform the outside space into a sensory garden for service users living with dementia.

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Laura Orrell, Daytime Support Manager and Jessica Hearty, Day Care Assistant at Fosterfields Day Care Centre with one of the displays created to go in the garden

Laura said: "We have had a really awful year in the pandemic. Seeing the centre shut down completely for so long was horrible, and the only contact our service users had was a phone call.

"We all went to work at other residential homes and have seen things we wouldn't normally ever have to witness, it has been heartbreaking. To then come back to the garden in such a state after such a turbulent year was when we knew we wanted to do something about it.

"One of the things our service users love more than anything is enjoying the outdoors, so we came up with a plan to take on the project and transform our garden into a sensory garden for those living with dementia.

"With the Government now encouraging people to get outdoors, we knew there was something we could do with the space, which was blank, bare and depressing. We pulled some ideas together and decided to do a sponsored walk with all our staff to raise the funds."

The garden will introduce sensory elements for day users with dementia

The centre hopes to raise at least £1,000 to make the developments to the space, which will see them introduce a painted wall mural, interactive sensory musical instruments and a water feature.

And they are expecting a donation from their local Nisa shop, Eaves Lane, which runs a champions fund to donate money for projects in the community.

The elderly service users have also been involved with the planning, having recently created a huge fish out of old CDs which is to be displayed in the garden.

Laura added: "The reason we are doing this is that we just want to make our garden more enjoyable and brighter place for our visitors, especially as we head into the summer months and people want to be enjoying the outdoors.

The garden was left "overgrown and dull" following its lockdown closure

"So many people living with dementia couldn't even put a sentence together but could enjoy singing music outdoors and experiencing things they can touch, feel and smell.

"We hope to begin works on our garden and have it completed in the next couple of months once we have raised the money. Our service users have loved being involved so far and it will give them a place to enjoy in the sunshine.

"We have such an amazing team here at Fosterfields who consistently go above and beyond to make projects like this happen. I am so thankful for all the staff who are giving up their time to do the walk and raise funds to make our garden a better place for everyone."

Alzheimer’s Society Lancashire Area Manager, Tara Edwards, welcomed the fundraising efforts of Fosterfields Day Centre in Chorley to create a sensory garden.

She said: “The sensory garden will be a fantastic place for people who are living with dementia to enjoy when they are at the centre. As well as the benefits of being out in the fresh air, the sights and smells of the garden will be very relaxing.

"They could also help to stimulate memories of times people have enjoyed outdoors in the past and allow them to reminisce. And the sensory garden will present lots of opportunities for activities like vegetable or cottage garden planting for years to come.

"Sadly, the lockdown has limited the opportunities for people to meet up and socialise, but it is thankfully now beginning to ease.

"Since the pandemic began, Alzheimer’s Society has helped huge numbers of people affected by dementia get the support they need, from speaking to one of our Dementia Advisers, to accessing information and advice on our website.

"Our services have been used over 3 million times since lockdown began in March 2020, showing that people affected by dementia need us now more than ever.”

You can donate to the Go Fund Me page HERE.

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