Practical tools and resources
Our team of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture professionals are constantly developing innovative ways of engaging participants whatever their ability and whatever the weather! We focus on ordinary tasks, that participants may have enjoyed in the past but now find more challenging, as well as new activities, providing an opportunity to develop their interests and skills.
This page provides practical tools and resources to help you get started with your own social and therapeutic gardening group.
In this video Jan Perry, Allotment Co-ordinator for Knowle West Health Association, explains the practical changes she made to include more people with dementia in theLet’s Grow Community Garden & Allotment:
When the weather grows cooler and the days shorter it is even more important to provide opportunities to be active, orientate to the seasons and make the most of available sunlight. Our activities can be delivered indoors or out
Here are some top tips for winter activity sessions providing motivation to spend 10 minutes being active outdoors, enjoy sensory stimulation and promote a sense of achievement.
Bright winter lanterns
These winter lanterns are a lovely, bright creative activity and help maintain a connection with nature on cold days. Download step by step instructions
Make a traditional Christmas wreath.
Gathering natural materials for an indoor activity is a great motivator to go outside. Bending the willow to form a circular wreath base is good for maintaining hand strength and grip too. Download step by step instructions.
Make toasty outdoor Christmas decorations
Making outdoor tree decorations out of toast is a cheap and easy way of attracting birds to the garden and engaging residents in a fun sensory activity. Hanging the decorations on the tree can help motivate residents to spend a few minutes outdoors. Download step by step instructions
Felting is a wonderful sensory which people of all abilities can enjoy. These felt flowers will help brighten up bedrooms on dark winter days. Download step by step instructions.
Make an origami garden reminiscence box
There are plenty of ways to continue to engage with nature even if its too cold to go outside. Making an origami garden reminiscence box can help start conversations about favourite plants and bring back memories of gardening activities everyone has enjoyed throughout the year. Download step by step instructions
Make fragrant lavender bags as pretty Christmas gifts.
Many people find lavender to have soothing properties, it can help ease anger, irritability, depression and insomnia. This is a sensory rich activity which can easily adapted to different levels of ability. If you haven’t harvested your own lavender from the garden it is readily available online. Download step by step instructions
Bring out your residents’ creative side and make a stunning “stained glass window”
Lovely, crunchy, golden autumn leaves are easily available from the garden and provide a great excuse to go outside and enjoy the autumn sunshine. This activity gives good orientation to the season. Download step by step instructions
Planting bulbs is an excellent way to exercise fine motor skills vital to maintaining independence. Bulbs are large and easy to handle making this activity accessible to people with poor eyesight or reduced dexterity. Planting bulbs gives something to look forward to in the Spring. Download step by step instructions
This activity is cheap and easy to do and enables your gardeners to bend and stretch and exercise those muscles so vital to prevent falls. Download step by step instructions
Download one and get gardening!
Please get in touch if you have further questions about these activities or to find out more about how Growing Support can help you deliver a programme of activities: email@example.com
2. Risk assessment
Growing Support believes in positive risk taking. We don’t leave anything to chance, we risk assess the environment and each activity session before we start work to safeguard the participants, the group leader, volunteers and other helpers.
This example risk assessment will help you identify potential risks you may also face and provides a framework to put in place actions to mitigate them. The overall risk assessment should be reviewed and update at least once per year or when there is any other major change such as new staff members or developments to the garden. You should also consider the risk of each individual activity session and put in place specific actions to mitigate those risks.
3. Links to other practical resources
- Practical recommendations for making community gardens more inclusive for people with dementia and their carers
- Adapted tools suitable for people with dementia: https://peta-uk.com/product-category/garden-tools/
- National charity championing social and therapeutic horticulture: http://www.thrive.org.uk/
- General gardening tips and advice: https://www.rhs.org.uk/
- List of potentially harmful plants: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=524
- Information about community gardens or city farms in your area: https://www.farmgarden.org.uk/