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A magical reminiscence garden designed specially for residents who are living with dementia has officially opened at our Palmerston Dementia Care Home. The home is run by the Abbeyfield and Wesley Society, and is based in the east of Belfast. It is thought to be the first garden of its kind ever created in Northern Ireland.
The project was funded by a number of organisations - as BBC Northern Ireland explain - and was a collaborative effort to design something unique to dementia care in the area.
The garden is circular in design, with the pathways and areas flowing from one to another without dead ends, which can often be stressful barriers for those living with dementia. The garden also features different areas to encourage conversations and spark reminiscence, such as a caravan that helps recall family days out and holidays. Plants have been chosen especially to provide a range of different scents, textures and colours and stimulate the senses for users of the garden.
Along with this, the garden also includes a "Pets Corner", where residents can look after rabbits and chickens, allowing them to receive the therapeutic benefits of spending time with animals. This innovative design has led to the garden being shortlisted for the Dementia Care Awards Dementia Garden award.
As well as being good for reminiscence and stimulation, this innovative new garden is a great way to encourage residents who are living with dementia outside. Despite the many mental and physical health benefits associated with getting some fresh air, only 35% of people with dementia get outside every week, with 1 in 10 getting outside less than once every month.
For someone living with dementia, getting outside can improve strength, cognitive function, and flexibility. Getting outside is also brilliant for overall mental health, with one study finding that spending time outside significantly improves mental health by reducing negative thoughts in participants.