A new program idea ‘blossoms’ at St. Andrew’s Terrace

Volunteer co-ordinator Deana Vellenga hopes to create self-guided garden museum in the home’s refurbished courtyards
7/29/2020  - Deron Hamel

Now that the St. Andrew’s Terrace courtyards are blossoming with plants and flowers, thanks to the recent work of residents and resident care aides (see July 13 story), the home’s volunteer co-ordinator Deana Vellenga has an idea to have the courtyards double as a self-guided botanical museum for residents.

Deana’s idea would see the Cambridge, Ont. long-term care community’s gardens’ plants and flowers labelled with their names and include photos, facts about how to care for them, and random trivia to foster discussions for residents and team members.

“The concept I am thinking about is that meaning is created for our residents through their outdoor garden visits,” she tells S&R Today, adding there is a body of evidence to support the benefits of a garden museum.

“This basic concept is well documented in studies referenced by museums.”

Deana says a self-guided garden museum could benefit residents on several levels.

For example, residents’ prior knowledge of flowers and their experiences gardening could help them reminisce or care for the plants.

“I see residents who like to sit and read in the garden, (residents) who like to bring their work gloves and work hard, others who like to plant or sweep and tidy, and some who like to visit, look, learn and talk,” she says.

St. Andrew’s Terrace, like Steeves & Rozema’s other long-term care communities, is closed to indoor visitors, and group programming is currently suspended to keep residents and team members safe during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

With many of the home’s programs on hold, a self-guided museum garden would open the door to a new activity residents could safely participate in with supervision, Deana says.

Although volunteers cannot visit St. Andrew’s Terrace due to restrictions, Deana says they are still playing a role in her idea.

“Our volunteers have sent in various personal stories and photos of their gardens which I have also made into laminated booklets that we can sanitize for residents to enjoy while in the gardens,” she says.

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