Mitie Landscapes designs dementia-friendly garden offering a safe and comforting outdoor experience
Mitie Landscapes has completed the first phase of a project to transform the gardens of Mountwood Care Home in Andover.
The team has created a garden space that aims to reduce confusion and agitation among elderly residents suffering from dementia.
Mountwood Care Home provides dementia, residential and nursing care on a permanent and respite basis to 40 residents.
Larchwood Care, which manages the facility, wanted to redesign the outdoor space as the existing garden was not suitable for all residents.
Because of the very-particular spatial and perception needs of dementia patients, an alternative layout for the garden was sought.
Paramount consideration was given to creating an outdoor environment where residents could feel secure and less likely to become confused or panicked while enjoying the outdoors.
After research and consultation with colleagues and care home advisors, Mitie’s Rick Towner came up with the perfect garden configuration to make it user friendly and safe without the constant need for supervised walks.
He had to consider a number of factors, including the fact that people with dementia like to wander for long periods of time. However, dead-ends can often make them agitated and frustrated.
His solution was to design a path in a figure-of-eight shape, enabling residents to walk uninterrupted for as long as they wanted.
The Infinity path is aimed at people with dementia who like to wander
He said: “Even though the solution is a simple one, we had to take so much on board to ensure the end result fulfilled its primary purpose - to create a stress-free experience for the residents.
“We wanted them to enjoy the sensation of being outside, being active, and being surrounded by beauty in a safe and functional place.”
The first step of the project was picking the right location. The team chose the sunniest part of Mountwood’s grounds to develop, located at the front of the residence.
It was the most-popular part of the site for walks. However, it led directly to the main external entrance, therefore the residents weren’t able to use that space unless they were accompanied by a member of staff.
Working together with sub-contractor, Wooton Woodland, Mitie included open-board fencing in the design to make the residents feel less enclosed, while still being secure.
There are also adjoining garden spaces around the infinity path which include a pergola, benches, soft furniture, wildlife tables, and two low sleeper beds designed so the residents can do their own planting. The path was laid in tarmac instead of gravel or stone to ensure suitable wheelchair access.
While it’s still early in the development, the garden is already looking impressive and is almost complete, with the final planting and re-seeding of some lawn areas.
Annette Maughan, manager at Mountwood, said: “We are delighted with the work done so far and can’t wait to see the end results.”