This time last year we were launching our garden club for people who are diagnosed with dementia when they are younger than 65. COVID put a bit of a dampener on our efforts but we have funding in place and the government roadmap allows us to get back together from April – so it seems like a good time for a relaunch.
A dementia diagnosis is difficult to receive at any age and everyone has very individual responses and needs at this time. When you are younger you may still be working, have children at home and dependent on you and it is possibly even more difficult for your friends and family to understand what you are going through.
Our garden club will provide a supportive and understanding space to help people adjust to their changing situation.
We are really pleased to have been invited to join in a research project with The University of Hertfordshire.
The Stevenage Dementia Involvement Group aims to provide opportunities for people with experience of dementia to influence dementia research and the planning of new services in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
The group discussions not only supply the researchers with valuable feedback but The Red Shed is also taking notes so that any ideas can be used to help us to build our service and meet the needs of the people we are working with.
Living with the effects of dementia at home can be isolating. The Red Shed Project try to combat this where ever possible. Being a part of Dementia Involvement group has been a great way of encouraging social engagement – as one of our participants told us…….’I am so pleased at being given the opportunity to be involved with the group and know that my thoughts and feelings are being listened to, and hopeful that this may lead to positive change’.
Although our dementia garden is closed due to COVID restrictions, we are still delivering activities and keeping in touch with our regular participants at home. It’s really important to stay connected as feelings of isolation are never far away in these difficult times. Our participants are still able to feel the benefits of gardening and getting creative, it’s especially important as the seeds that they are sowing will make sure that our dementia garden is blooming abundant in the summer.
Not just keeping busy but being purposeful is a great way to maintain wellbeing.
This week we ran several craft workshops – in the warm and dry thanks to our neighbours St Josephs who lent us their hall. The workshops were a chance to learn something new. We used willow to make lanterns, carved happy pumpkins and were introduced to Air Plants and making them into fabulous and unusual indoor gardens.
At The Red Shed we continually try to encourage people to try something different. The is a great sense of achievement in creating wonderful things and then taking them home to ‘show off’ to family and friends.
Pat was able to carve pumpkins at home with her grand-daughter, Viv was so please she had created a little garden that made her think of being ‘away somewhere nice’ and Tim felt good to be able to use his construction skills to build a lantern – with great accuracy!
These are the last of our Lets Get Going! workshops and we have been able to encourage over 50 people to get out and get going again after the first COVID lockdown. Hopefully we have given people some positive feelings that will help them through the next lockdown – looking forward to meeting again in December………..
Its two years since The Red Shed Project was first registered and we are so pleased and a little amazed by what has been achieved. We were really lucky this week to have a visit from a professional photographer – Stephanie Belton. She came to the project with some other visitors from Herts Community Foundation – one of our major funders, to take a look around and take these wonderful pictures. They make a wonderful record of the project aged 2!!
At The Red Shed garden we have got some wonderful vegetables growing.
They have all been planted from seed, probably by one of our gardeners while they are seated on the patio and perhaps in their wheelchair. Because they are relatively quick to grow, they are being picked an enjoyed by those same gardeners.
Vegetables are a part of our life and we can reminisce on favourite recipes and good times sharing a meal. The smell, shapes and colours are all great for our senses to enjoy, then to top it off there is the feeling of pride in growing something delicious and taking them home to share with family and friends.
Once everything is harvested we can start collecting seeds and planning for our veg patch next year – something for us all to look forward too!
After months of lock down, we are now able to open our garden gate again. First to come back to The Red Shed garden was our Garden Club. It was great to see everyone. We had to split into two 1 hour sessions to keep numbers to the 6 allowed by current guidelines. We are so lucky to have an outdoor space and be able to meet again – with lots of antibac wipes, gloves and an eye on social distancing.
In addition to our Garden Club, we are delighted to have recieved funding from HCF and HCC to run an initiative through the summer which we have called ‘Lets Get Going!’ We aim to welcome to our garden as many people as possible who’s lives are affected by dementia and to provide them with the oppotunity to meet in small, supportive, socially distanced groups.
There will be a choice of
· Art and Craft workshops
· Garden activities
· The chance to take a walk and get moving again – at any pace!
All our activities will be suitable for any ability.
Our experienced staff and volunteers will be on hand to support and ensure that the necessary hygiene, PPE requirements and social distancing is maintained.
Our outdoor space is a perfect place to exercise and socialise, and our summer sessions will help improve physical and mental wellbeing. This initiative will also help to reduce the feeling of isolation and begin to re-build confidence after ‘lockdown’.
We have been sending out regular updates to all our Garden Club members and volunteers. As well as letting people know what’s going on in The Red Shed garden, we have included: pictures folk have sent to us, some gardening tips, interesting facts and anything to keep people in touch and stay connected. During this difficult time, it is more important than ever to ensure that people who are living with the effects of Dementia still feels included and less isolated. Our Pumpkin Club and other ‘grow at home’ initiatives, also aim to encourage people to get out into their own gardens or utilise their windowsills to continue to benefit from nurturing plants.
Remote gardening activities and fresh veg from The Red Shed Garden is all being provided safely to people living with Dementia and their carers. Some usually come to The Red Shed Garden Clubs others are members of organisations such as Crossroads, Open Art Box and Bayfield Care Homes. The Tomato Plants have all been grown by The Red Shed Garden Club, in their conservatories, greenhouses or windowsills. They are now being distributed to others living with with effects of Dementia in this difficult ‘Lock Down’ period. True community spirit is alive and well!