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24 August 2017

Swindon Mayor cuts the ribbon at opening of Sensory Garden designed for care home residents with dementia

There are few things more quintessentially English than pottering around in the garden, and with that truism in mind the brand new Sensory Garden at Downs View Care Centre near Swindon has been painstakingly designed to help residents with dementia partake in the nation’s favourite pastime.

Swindon’s Mayor Maureen Penny was on hand to cut the ribbon at the opening of the bespoke garden, the culmination of a long held dream and months of hard work by staff at Downs View, an outstanding residential home in the picturesque hamlet of Badbury, complete with spectacular views to the Marlborough Downs.

“Sensory gardens are especially designed to stimulate the senses,” says Downs View Manager Amanda Timms, and judging from the reactions of guests at the opening event – “Relaxing! Beautiful! Gorgeous! Peaceful! Soothing!” – our new garden does exactly that.

Amanda, who has been manager at the Badbury residential home for nine years, admits that the opening of the garden is a dream come true: “Our vision was to take what was a stretch of concrete and create a lovely outdoor space for the residents. Coate Water Care director Geraldine Smith came up with the blueprint and three months of hard work later we have this amazing and stimulating space for people to enjoy.”

Down’s View’s sensory garden has plentiful seating and shaded areas from where residents can experience the sights, sounds and smells of colourful flowers, scented plants, aromatic herbs, water features, sculptures, and wind chimes. It has even got its own Pets Corner with chirping budgies and surprisingly vocal tortoises!

“We have over fifty bedrooms at Downs View,” continues Amanda, “and the residents here have varying degrees of dementia. But the great thing about the sensory garden is that if offers different levels of stimulation for each individual.”

“One gentleman waters the plants every day which gives him a real sense of purpose; others help feed Bill and Ben the rabbits or Ben and Jerry the tortoises. Animals are great therapy for people with dementia, looking after them just has a very calming effect.”

“Having a garden like this will make a particularly big difference to people whose dementia causes stress and anxiety. They may not want to talk to other people but being outside in this calming atmosphere or looking after the pets can really benefit them.”

“As for residents who simply want to relax in the garden, wherever they sit is a focal point for the smells of lavender, basil and garlic or the sounds of the wind chimes and birds. And we’ve made sure the whole garden is accessible by wheelchair, plus the soft spongy flooring has been installed with safety in mind.”

The Downs View garden is not just for residents either. “It’s also a relaxing environment where people can spend time with their families when they visit,” says Amanda. “There’s even a space in the middle that visiting grandchildren have nicknamed the Yellow Brick Road – you’ve guessed it, because it’s yellow! In fact, the bright colours of the garden are all part of the sensory experience.”    

There is no disguising the pride in Amanda’s voice as she concludes: “We believe the sensory garden will make a significant contribution to Downs View residents’ wellbeing. The positive response to the opening made it a really emotional day for all the staff here - we do this job because people with dementia deserve the best possible care, and being able to provide something so wonderful for the residents we care for is really special.”

Downs View Care Centre is situated in the quiet rural hamlet of Badbury, just off the A346 (Swindon to Marlborough road) approximately 1 mile from Junction 15 off the M4 motorway.

To find out about residential care at Downs View or to arrange a visit to any of Coate Water Care’s outstanding care homes, please contact our ‘Welcome Team’ on 01793 821200.