Residents and staff at Saxonwood care home have been making the most of the recent months. Jade Allcorn, Activities Co-ordinator shares their adventures.
"When life brings you lemons and shuts you off from the rest of the world, what better way to keep your mind and body active than to spend quality time in the garden. We are quite lucky to have such an amazing garden, beautifully positioned in a small southern country town and how the sun has kept on shining for us. Gardening and garden related activities can be a fun way of getting individuals more physically active and engaged, our residents have done just that, with the support and encouragement from the Saxonwood team, they have enjoyed quality time with staff and each other in the garden.
I would like to take you on a journey about how we have adapted our activities within our home during the COVID pandemic, a little snippet of life at Saxonwood when the doors closed off to loved ones and our community.
It’s since lockdown that our focus steered more than ever, towards the garden - our only outlet from the hustle and bustle of a care home, a space to clear the mind and re-energise. As the flowers of spring flourished, so did the weeds and some were quite heavy duty! This is when the staff stepped in, volunteering their own time to come and get their hands dirty, creating yet again, a tranquil space for our residents to be able to relax and enjoy.
This built even more on our community at Saxonwood. Staff and residents working together, creating new ideas to keep ourselves busy and to transport ourselves to our very own paradise. And with all the beautiful weather we’ve had, the residents started to enjoy being outside more than inside. Listening to classical music and sipping cups of tea in the afternoon was just the beginning.
Residents were soon planting little seedlings into pots and watching them grow day by day, seeing all the different flowers forming and talking about the beauty of them in such a surreal world, the garden was thriving. As we planted more and more flowers, the residents got more encouraged about being outside, creating a gardening group, de-weeding where needed, watering flowers on a daily basis and bringing them to life.
As the residents enjoyed all the pretty colours of the flowers, they started to notice how dull and weathered our garden ornaments looked. “Shall we paint them?” one questioned, “yes, all the colours of the rainbow” was the answer from another. So, we did just that. The paint pots were out and the brightest paint was found. This was a great day, smiles and laughter roared across the patio as each ornament got brighter and more creative as the morning went on. This was a great way for the residents to put their own creativeness into the garden, making our garden a unique space to escape. This gave way to another painting project - the benches. We had previously given them a new coat of paint but the residents felt they needed to be brighter and wanted to put their own stamp on them.
The activities and creative ideas continued to pour in from our residents, some being as simple as walks through the garden spotting various different plants and flowers. This opened up memory banks and stories were told about their own gardens back home and creating our wonderful walking group. Others were not so simple and needed a little extra organisation, our Dog show being one of them. We rallied around and asked our pooch owning staff if they could bring their beloved dogs in and parade them through the garden, making their way up to the patio windows for the residents to see. Each dog was allocated a number which they wore so the residents could vote for their favourite canine. This was an amazing experience for our residents, they “oooh’ed” and “ahhhh’ed” at each and every one of them, saying how lovely it was to meet our dogs.
As the interest of the garden grew, so did the residents’ interest of the birds. We also noticed that we had a family of black birds nesting in the top of our building. This was a highlight for some residents, listening to them tweet. As the babies grew, they watched them all learn how to fly from the patio. We were sad when the babies were fully grown and left the nest and this was voiced by the residents too, so, we thought it was a great idea to position bird feeders all around the garden. We asked each resident whether they would like one positioned just outside their window and just as we thought, they loved this idea - what a way to bring the outdoors in.
Bring on the DIY! Not everyone wants to be pottering around the garden or getting muddy hands, but they do like creating master pieces and fixing things. Between staff and residents we have been able to create raised beds, sturdy fixings for our beloved plants that may not like the wind very much, and do enjoy general garden maintenance.
We do like a bit of healthy competition between Sussex Housing & Care’s four care homes, so when Amanda (Director of Housing & Care) emailed and suggested a sunflower competition we jumped at the chance! Amanda brought all the homes some seeds and residents at all locations planted them at the same time. One of our residents gave her seed a kiss, named it after her late husband and now it’s thriving to be the tallest. We have been watching them grow for a few weeks now, residents have been watering them every day and feeding them once a week. They are enjoying guessing their height and looking after them. We cannot wait till they flower.
This is Saxonwood. Our community is building a brilliant future together."