Thrive is taking its gardening knowledge into care homes in Gateshead to encourage and enable good mental and physical health amongst residents.
Thrive uses gardening to bring positive changes to the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health and runs a project in Saltwell Park. The charity has been in Gateshead for three years and established nationally for almost 40.
The new Gardening Together project, funded by Big Local Gateshead, will bring residents together for indoor table top gardening sessions as well as gentle outdoor gardening in three care homes – Rosewood House, Armstrong House and Fountain Court.
A horticultural therapist from Thrive will pass on their skills and knowledge to care home staff, invigorating them and giving them the confidence to carry on gardening with the residents once the project has ended.
As people leave their homes to go into a care setting they may feel vulnerable as they lose their independence. Added to that is the change people face as they age and how it impacts on their physical, emotional and cognitive wellbeing. It can lead to elderly residents becoming more socially isolated.
Group gardening is a therapeutic way to address these issues, nurturing social interaction, communication and team working and it can add structure to peoples’ lives and give some independence back.
Chris Tait, Manager at Thrive Gateshead, said: "The group gardening sessions will not only help with peoples’ general health and wellbeing, but offer a sense of empowerment and independence, particularly for those that previously enjoyed gardening, but felt it was an interest they had to give up.
"Gardening enables care home residents to enjoy a social activity that provides meaning and purpose whilst positively contributing to their physical and psychological wellbeing."
"We also envisage this having a positive impact in the care sector locally and Thrive will support care home staff to provide meaningful and beneficial activities to residents through gardening.
"We want staff to feel empowered to help residents live a more fulfilled life. There is an extra positive benefit for the care home sector, as residents and staff take pride in their surrounding knowing that they have contributed to the environment in which they live and work."
The Gardening Together project is funded by Big Local Gateshead which is a community development project aiming to improve the lives of local people. It has many aims which include working with older people, health and the environment and this project encompasses many of those.
Andrew Tinkler from Big Local Gateshead, said: "In commissioning this pilot project with Thrive we hope that some of our older residents will enjoy trying something new.
"We also hope that it may grow into something long-term and can expand to include work at a new allotment plot we are clearing at Sandown Allotments on the Racecourse estate."