Sensory garden for dementia patients at Tinonee Gardens, Waratah

WARATAH resident Lorna Morgan loves to potter in the garden.

Out in the sunshine, she wanders around deadheading dying blooms, pulling out weeds, and tidying up.

As she moves around tending the plants, she says: "I hope to spend some time in the garden when the weather is better."

Mrs Morgan is one of 35 residents in the secure dementia unit at Tinonee Gardens, Waratah.

Last month, the sensory garden was opened.

In the garden a circular path meanders past a water feature, lawn, a pergola with a bench seat, Greek columns, myriad statues and wind features, bird feeder, and a variety of flower, herbs and plants in beds and pots.

There is also a large water tank to allow the residents to water the garden.

Tinonee Gardens dementia service manager Michelle Kearns said the garden was a good addition as it allowed residents freedom and independence in a safe environment.

"It has been designed to stimulate the residents' five senses - touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste," she said. "These senses were all taken into consideration when the innovative designing of the garden was first started, to ensure maximum pleasure, freedom, security and enjoyment."

Ms Kearns said it was hoped easy access to the raised flower and herb pots would encourage touch, smell and taste, and would help evoke memories, familiarity, relaxation, freedom and adventure.

"This not only helpful for those with dementia but has added a better quality of life for all living at Tinonee Gardens."

Other residents are able to access the garden through an outside path and locked gate.

In the pipeline for about two years, the project received a boost from a state grant of $33,217 from the Community Building Partnership Scheme.

This money, along with funds from the Tinonee Gardens Board and donations from residents' families, staff and the business community, helped the $70,000 garden become a reality.

There are already plans for additions.

Ms Kearns is looking for an artist, group of artists or school which would like to design and paint a village scene mural to brighten the garden's paling fence.

She said the unit would supply wood and paint.

Ms Kearns is also on the hunt for original or nostalgic pieces such as metal wheelbarrows, ploughs and windmills.

■ For more information about helping with the mural or donated items phone 4967 6366.

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