Sensory garden helps patients grow

A woman holding a watering can and standing next to a garden bed
Occupational Therapist Pia Remund tends to the sensory garden in Mimidi Park.
October 4, 2016

Patients are enjoying the emotional and physical benefits of gardening thanks to the new sensory garden at Mimidi Park.

Mimidi Park Occupational Therapist Michelle Baillie said planting, watering and caring for plants promoted social interaction and helped patients to use different senses and regulate emotions.

"The garden can elicit positive memories from the past, or help patients focus on the here and now by participating in something fun and active," Michelle said.

As Occupational Therapy Week approaches (16 to 22 October) the sensory garden is a timely reminder of the many ways occupational therapy can help people at all stages of life reach their full potential.

"The sensory garden is a great example of how occupational therapy strategies can assist people on their mental health journey," said Michelle.

Plans for the sensory garden began with Peer Recovery Worker Tracey Booth fundraising through a sausage sizzle, with Growing Towards Wellness (GTW) helping set up the garden.

GTW specialises in an alternative recovery model for people with mental illness by providing training, support and mentorship through horticulture and the environment.

Occupational Therapy Assistants Nicky Beckingham and Deepika Hettihewa have been facilitating gardening groups and ongoing maintenance.

The garden is currently a raised bed, but there are hopes of building a vertical garden that will be more accessible for patients at risk of falls or with reduced mobility.

Michelle said the garden also supports the ‘Act, Belong, Commit’ message of Mental Health Week (8 to 15 October).

"It encourages patients to be physically active, interact with each other and the environment, and to see something grow from start to finish," Michelle said.