Sensory garden at Burnside

Burnside sensory garden
Burnside sensory garden

Burnside Care Home in Laurencekirk is promoting the mental and spiritual wellbeing of residents with a special new sensory garden.

The home wanted to create areas in their garden that all of its 57 residents, with varying abilities and needs, could utilise and enjoy.

Burnside has created a special herb garden which involves touch, taste and smell, to stimulate residents and give them a space to enjoy. Plants including rosemary, curry, thyme and lemon balm, among others, allow residents to have a special outdoor space with clean, fresh air, which can have a positive impact on certain medical conditions and their symptoms, including Dementia and mental health conditions.

Emma Sinclair, Enablement Co-ordinator at Burnside Care Home has written a paper titled ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ which combines her research on the health benefits of outdoor spaces and creating sensory areas at the home as a way of making it more accessible and purposeful for residents, staff and visitors.

The paper highlights the benefits that fresh air and ‘green’ pass times has on people and how it is beneficial to a person’s mental health. Being outdoors increases the amount of serotonin, the happy hormone, in the brain. Green pass times are also good for generating energy, improving concentration and increasing motivation, as well as helping people to stay physically active.

Emma said: “This research supports my belief that fresh air is the best medicine we can all have. It supports in helping to improve symptoms of various medical issues such as dementia, infections and mental health, among others.”

There will also be a sight and sound area, where residents can plant bulbs, seeds and plants themselves and choose the features they would like to see and hear in the garden. They also have the option of going to the garden centre to select and buy the goods themselves.

Local joiner, James Davie, kindly made and donated some raised beds to plant the herb garden, meaning it is accessible to all residents including those who use wheelchairs.

Emma said: “After speaking with residents it became clear that they valued the outdoor space and the garden at the home, and if they could choose, they told us they would want to spend more money on plants and other outdoor features.”

“This, combined with my research led to the sensory garden being created. It is a unique and exciting project which we hope many residents will benefit from and get involved with, especially those who live with certain medical conditions.

“We are committed to making residents feel as comfortable and special as possible while at Burnside, and this will be a welcome addition for everyone.”