The importance of garden space for our clients’ wellbeing
Pictured above and below: Enjoying garden games.
Over the past 14 months lockdown restrictions have made life very difficult for everyone, but for our clients it has been a particularly challenging time. Being forced to stay indoors for long periods of time and with activities severely restricted has had a detrimental impact on the mental health and wellbeing of many of our clients.
Focusing on our clients’ physical health during the pandemic has been vital, but we are also concerned about their mental health. The social distancing and isolation measures implemented to manage the pandemic are known to impair mental health, and this burden is greater for people with learning disabilities, because they have generally poorer coping abilities.
The closure of day services, loss of routine, difficulties staying in touch with family and friends, and keeping active has made it harder for people with learning disabilities to cope. This is having a negative impact on their wellbeing.
Our goal is to continue to help our clients to move on positively with their lives, even as lockdown restrictions continue. We have to focus on caring for our clients' mental health and enhancing their ability to manage in very challenging circumstances.
There are a number of ways we have been doing this and one of the most important has been creating useable outdoor space, to give our clients an additional place to go outside of the house but without the risk of coming into contact with the virus.The gardens not only provide a space for physical and leisure activities, such as ball games, trampolining and gardening, but also a place to escape for calm when feeling anxious and stressed.
With the help of our generous donors, we have been able to build summerhouses, install trampolines, put up garden shade sails and create sensory gardens. All of these improvements enable our clients to grow more confident and help develop the skills they need to become more independent. Going out into the garden as and when they like has been critical in helping to maintain an equilibrium for our clients.
As we look forward to summer and emerging into a ‘new normal’, we need to pay even greater attention to how we can support our clients, mitigating against any lasting impact to their mental health and wellbeing. Ultimately, we want to help them to live their very best lives.