One aged care facility is encouraging green thumbs to help counter the blues in a programme that has won the Team Excellence section of the 2021 HESTA Excellence Awards.
Their program, Planting with a Purpose, utilises the facilities’ outdoor garden beds to grow a range of fresh produce, which is then harvested and incorporated into meals in collaboration with Lifeview kitchen staff.
“We started out with just a genuine motivation to bring a bit of life and a bit of joy to the residents in a way that’s really practical and hands on, and to get rewarded for it is just the cream on the cake really,” Stephen Milstead, Lifeview hospitality services manager, said.
Milsted told Aged Care News that the program was developed two years ago as a way to physically and socially engage residents.
“Lots of aged care homes have beautiful gardens but nobody ever goes out in them, you very rarely see any residents outside.”
“We’ve got a couple of really keen gardeners, and some not so keen, but who still like to get out there and be part of fresh air and weeding and harvesting produce.
“And for it then to be cooked by chefs and put on their plates — in the end there’s this great sense of satisfaction,” Milstead said.
“In terms of both the physical and the mental health, it’s just brilliant.”
Milstead said that the $7500 cash prize is going “straight back into the gardens”.
“It’ll help build extra raised garden beds, planting fruit trees, and adding worm farms in every home,” he said.
“It’s about sustainability and looking forward to the long term.”
Lifeview chief executive officer Madeline Gall said she’s pleased the program has addressed the royal commission into aged care’s desire to enrich food and nutrition within facilities.
“With programs such as this, we hope we can inspire others to get out there and grow their own produce, ensuring residents have not only meaningful interactions and activities, with a sense of ownership but a plentiful supply of home grown produce,” she said.
Milstead advised all aged care facilities with the space to ‘just give it a go’.
“It’s not that hard but you’ve got to work as a team,” he said.
“… And it’s not about exchanging the produce that you would ordinarily buy for what’s in the garden; the stuff in the garden adds to what you’re already doing in the kitchen.”
“What it’s about is getting the residents out there and just bringing life to the place.”