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8 Cool Benefits of a Sensory Garden to the lives of people with a disability

Sensory Gardens have been found to generate countless benefits to individual’s physical health and wellbeing, especially those living with a disability.

We proudly introduced that we will be designing and planting a world-class sensory garden at SACARE's latest facility, "The Gums". We covered what a sensory garden is in our most recent blog post. The question now is, why? There are countless benefits that many SACARE clients will receive through the establishment of the Sensory Garden.

Sensory gardens have been shown to generate countless benefits to users with Acquired Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Huntington’s Chorea, and more.

The list below does not represent all SACARE clients, however it does provide the most common benefits, and those most likely to be achieved by our clients and friends. 

1. SENSORY STIMULATION

Given the name ‘Sensory Garden’, you’d be correct in assuming that one of the prominent benefits is sensory stimulation! Sensory stimulation is the activation of one of more of the senses. Given that many of our clients experience decreased use or loss of certain senses, engagement with sensory gardens can allow access to unique sensory inputs, nature and sunlight. This can increase sensation or dull hypersensitivity to affected limbs!

(Lavender Plant, photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin: Unsplash)

2. PROMOTING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Walking, gardening, sitting-to-standing and just moving outside are incredibly beneficial to promoting and performing physical activity. Physical activity for those with acquired brain injuries, degenerative diseases and other disabilities (and everyone else for that matter), has an incredible amount of health benefits. Alleviating depressive symptoms, improvement of physical tasks, cardio-respiratory fitness and muscle strength are just a few! It will also provide an outdoor space for therapy, alongside the gym or pool.

3. PARTICIPATION AND A SENSE OF COMMUNITY
There’s something special about working in a team to create something great. Working in the sensory garden as an individual is beneficial, but working with others can increase a client’s desire to participate and create a sense of community with not only residents, but the wider community!


(Gardening, photo by Benjamin Combs: Unsplash)

4. REDUCING BEHAVIOURS OF AGITATION AND AGGRESSION
Within the main sensory garden, meaningful task performance associated with gardening can reduce negative behaviours, and providing regulated engagement of the senses for agitation.

Sensory gardens and the act of gardening have been widely documented to reduce behaviours of agitation and aggression, and so, the Sensory Modulation Area is a small outdoor area which will be adjacent to the main Sensory Garden. This area will be provided to clients experiencing aggression or uncontrollable outbursts, who would benefit from some fresh air, a place to be alone and to “let off some steam”. This area will include shade for summer and a weather-proof bench-press to help relieve tension.

5. PRESENTING COGNITIVE AND PHYSICAL CHALLENGES
There will be a number of physical and cognitive activities to do in and around our Sensory Garden! Not only this, but we mentioned in our last blog post that we will highly encourage clients and friends to walk along the peaceful Little Para River, which runs along "The Gums", or to walk to the nearby shops. These activities can increase motor activity and purposeful movement, challenge balance in a safe environment and provide cognitive stimulation through planning and executive functioning!

(The Little Para River runs along "The Gums", photo by Trails SA: southaustraliantrails.com) 

6. ALLOWING MEDITATION, REFLECTION AND STRESS RELEASE
Emotional and spiritual healing is just as important as physical, and luckily sensory gardens enable the means for this. It allows for a calm and private space for reflection and meditation, as well as family discussion. Elements such as water features, music and natural sounds, and the smells of edible and floral plants will influence these calming sensations. Relaxation and the release of any stresses can then convert into physical benefits such as reduced blood pressure.

7. INSPIRING PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT
Another important benefit of the sensory garden is the sense of personal accomplishment associated with gardening and other related activities. Growing and caring for plants and living organisms, especially those edible and able to be used for cooking, can create new interests which improve happiness and a client’s overall sense of achievement. Other benefits relate to providing access to meaningful occupation and motivating performance, this is known as PERMA positive psychology. We will be releasing more information about SACARE's new THRIVE Program which is based on this science soon.

(A raised garden bed, photo by Eduard Militaru: Unsplash)

8. DECREASING FATIGUE AND INCREASING MENTAL CLARITY
The last benefit we’ll mention (although there are a LOT more), is that sensory gardens have been proven to decrease fatigue AND increase mental clarity. It’s all that fresh air! Sense of smell for example, uses stored memory increase neural activity.

We’re getting closer and closer to launching the Sensory Garden and can’t wait to share more with you! Make sure to keep an eye out for updates.


To find out more about The Gums and its developments, click here.

If you would like to volunteer with us, and maybe help us out with our sensory gardens follow this link to our volunteer page.


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