New outdoor space enhances dementia residents' well-being

By Petrina Wright | Posted: Monday November 28, 2022

Staff and residents are set to benefit from Peacehaven's dementia unit's new outdoor area in more ways than one.

On any given stunning Southland day, you are bound to find some of Peacehaven’s dementia residents out basking in the fresh air and sunshine, following the completion of a new specially-designed outdoor space in the Iona Dementia Care Unit.

With the aim of providing its residents with a safe, inviting and stimulating outdoor environment to enjoy with their families and friends, Presbyterian Support Southland (PSS) has redeveloped and enhanced the secure garden outside the D3 dementia unit.

Prior to the garden revamp, there was a figure 8 pathway in the garden, but there was no direct access from the unit to the garden, and so the pathway had not been well utilised.

The new space had been designed to connect the indoor and outdoor environments. The deck area and garden had been completed. The remainder of the project was expected to be completed before Christmas.

Enliven director Carol Riddle said this space would be hugely beneficial for residents’ quality of life and wellbeing.

The overall project comprises:

- large new deck

- new doors from the unit onto the deck

- improved access from the deck to the garden

- installation of new colourful fencing panels donated by the Invercargill City development company. These panels had been erected around the perimeter of the Invercargill CBD development, and were donated after they became surplus to requirements, and

- new outdoor furniture

The outdoor furniture, the finishing touch to the extensive upgrade to the garden and outdoor area, was purchased using grants managed by Perpetual Guardian - the Stewart Family Charitable Trust and the James Stewart Memorial Fund.

Ms Riddle said the furniture allowed residents to choose to dine outside if they so wanted. It also provided an alternative to meeting visitors in the communal lounge or residents’ bedrooms.

Previously there had been nowhere for residents and their visitors to sit outside together.

“Residents’ cognitive limitations mean it is often too overwhelming for families to take them on outings, and residents have limited options for enjoying the outdoors other than the secure garden at Iona,” she said.

“We want to encourage families to use the new space. Bring the kids, bring their little bikes along, bring fish and chips and enjoy the precious time you have with your loved ones.”

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