The benefits of community gardening

Many people, especially the elderly, who would have tended to their own gardens before, look forward to the ever changing scenery of a garden as it comes alive after the frosty months of winter.

The benefits of community gardening

Gardening can be a very fulfilling activity particularly for the elderly, those with learning difficulties, or suffering from dementia. Apart from the obvious rewards of fresh air and exercise, gardening can have physical, mental and therapeutic benefits. It can reduce stress levels, be mentally stimulating, help with social interaction and give a real sense of satisfaction and pride in accomplishing something everyone can enjoy.

It can be an enjoyable form of exercise and the physical benefits can lead to improved coordination; whilst tending to flower beds, planting seeds or pruning branches can help to improve motor skills and help give more independence and responsibility overall. During the summer months activities which usually take place inside can be moved outside so those taking part can benefit from a more open environment, fresh air and different scenery.

It is commonly believed that the sensory stimuli associated with gardens can have a positive and therapeutic effect on dementia sufferers by improving memory and anxieties. Planting a range of flowers with different textures, scents, colours and sounds can be appealing to all senses. Community gardens can increase a sense of togetherness within people as well as providing much needed social interactions which can help with rehabilitation.

Don't forget about the risks


However, it is important to remember how these tranquil settings can also have hidden risks which require attention in the same way threats within the home are dealt with. Before anyone ventures out into a garden or any activity takes place, ensure the correct risk assessments have been completed.

Some important risks to consider before the summer months are:

  • Check that pathways, decking and steps have not eroded during the winter months and become uneven or loose.

  • Garden waste is properly managed. There are no wet leaves left on pathways which can become slippery.

  • Entrances, exits and hazards, such as garden features, are sign-posted to minimise confusion and falls.

  • Ensure brickwork and fencing is regularly maintained to minimise weather damage.

  • Regularly check garden furniture which can be weakened due to weather or overuse.

  • Ensure hedges and shrubs are regularly pruned back to avoid overhanging branches that can obstruct pathways.

  • Do not leave any gardening equipment unattended.

  • Ensure there are no poisonous plants within the garden that could cause harm.

  • Maintain garden lighting and ensure any dark areas of the garden are well lit.

  • Check that any restricted areas are adequately secure.

  • Consider fitting safety glass in any greenhouses.

It is also important the right insurance is in place to cover any garden activities that take place in the garden or, any outside accidents. Always inform your insurance company of any changes to a residential garden or changes to any care activities taking place outdoors.

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