We’re all used to hearing the age-old advice of looking at greenery to rest our eyes after hours of staring at the screen or a document, but did you know that green spaces have been proven to do wonders for our mental health?
And it’s not just looking at green spaces that helps our mental well-being — several studies have shown that gardening and plant-based activities could reduce dementia patients’ stress levels and boost their overall quality of life!
With these in mind, All Saints Home (ASH) decided to redevelop their Yishun centre to build a therapeutic garden in their vicinity, officially launched on March 15, 2021. Spanning 585 square metres, the tranquil garden provides a calming respite for ASH’s residents and visitors. Due to the current safe distancing measures, around 12 to 15 residents or up to five pairs of patients and their next-of-kin could enjoy the garden at any given time.
Bringing Back the Kampung Spirit
Every centre of ASH has a theme, and for the Yishun centre, the theme “kampung” is apt in demonstrating the spirit of togetherness among its residents and staff. This theme is weaved into the design of the garden —upon entering the garden, residents are greeted with kampung-style fences and lamp posts. With ample foliage to provide shade and a harmony of colours from the florals, stepping into the garden gives one an immediate sense of peace.
In fact, every inch of the garden was carefully designed to cater to their residents’ needs. Read on to take a virtual tour of the garden's key features!
Circular Walkway for Safe Exploration
The garden houses a circular walkway that is wide and wheelchair-friendly. The simple looped path provides residents and visitors with a panoramic view of the whole garden and allows safe and easy exploration. The absence of steep slopes and confusing dead ends minimises the risk for disorientation and distress as the seniors navigate their way around the garden.
Sensory Garden to Stimulate the Senses
To enhance the residents’ sensory experience, the committee in charge of this project paid special attention to its planting composition in the Sensory Garden, opting for blooms and foliage in bright colours. In this way, residents can activate their senses of sight, smell, and touch by appreciating the carefully curated plants’ scents, colours, and textures. Plants like hibiscus, jasmine and pink periwinkle are among the plethora of flowers to bring a cheerful vibe to the landscape, while fruit trees like jackfruit, soursop and jambu air provide shade and bear fruits for the residents.
Water Well and Dry River for Good Olden Kampung Setting
Nestled in a quiet nook of the garden is a well! This addition is meant for seniors to reminisce about their good ol’ kampung days, where it was a norm to draw water from a communal well for home use. For safety and prevention of mosquito breeding, the well is affixed with a custom-made acrylic rain cover, as well as drainage holes at the bottom, to prevent accumulation of still water.
The garden’s dry riverbed landscape is a sustainable and creative way to address potential drainage issues during the rainy seasons. The natural stone path of the dry river transforms the entire garden into an oasis!
Ample Rest Areas for Interaction
Ample rest areas are thoughtfully placed along the pathways for residents to enjoy the garden and provide scenic views. The rest areas and comfortable garden seating are explicitly added to promote interaction between residents and their families in a natural environment and aid the residents in the natural absorption of vitamin D from sunlight exposure.
A Peaceful Sanctuary for ASH’S Residents
The therapeutic garden has brought many smiles to ASH's residents and their next-of-kin.
Mr Khng Joo Heng, 74, says that he looks forward to his reading and prayer time in the garden. He is also looking forward to enjoying the soursop fruits growing in the garden with his friends. On the other hand, Mr Lee Hoe Joo, 64, an avid gardener during his younger days, is excited to plant fruits in the garden!
"The garden is beautiful; I can come here with my younger sister when she visits." - Mr Lee.
ASH strives to enrich seniors' lives in their care, and the therapeutic garden is just one of the many initiatives to enhance the daily lives of their residents. Caring for seniors is no walk in the park. It takes commitment to go beyond providing the standard facilities of a senior care home to cater to what's best for the patient's welfare.
“We're very thankful for the support and funding received that enabled us to repurpose the space at our Yishun centre to include a therapeutic garden. Designed to be dementia-friendly, it's an inclusive space that benefits all residents. It is also conducive to intergenerational family bonding, and aligns with our kampung theme which helps bring our residents together with shared memories.” - Ms Ko Hui Yun, Chief Operating Officer
All Saints Home is a social service agency with comprehensive and professional elder care services to the seniors.