Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Green gardens are important to older people in residential homes

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Does it matter if a residential home has a garden? How does that affect the quality of life of residents? In the background to this study the authors say: 'Access to a green outdoor environment may enable psychological distance, engage effortless attention, encourage more frequent visitation and promote resident health.' This study by Dahlkvist et al. (2106) comes from Sweden and is titled 'Garden greenery and the health of older people in residential care facilities: a multi-level cross-sectional study' and published in JAN and aimed to: 'test the relationship between greenery in gardens at residential facilities for older people and the self-perceived health of residents, mediated by experiences of being away and fascination when in the garden and the frequency of visitation there. To examine how these indirect effects vary with the number of physical barriers to visiting the garden.'


Nearly 300 residents in 72 residential homes were questioned about their experiences of gardens and their health. While the effects were moderate, the use of gardens and green spaces increased the feelings in older people of 'being away' and the extent to which older people benefited from green spaces was inversely related to the barriers to access to those spaces. In conclusion, the authors say: 'This study suggests that having more greenery and other natural elements in outdoor spaces at residential facilities for older people will promote experiences of being away and fascination when residents’ go outdoors and that this in turn will promote more frequent visitation and better health. It also appears, however, that such advantages will not be fully realized if residents face multiple barriers to going outdoors. It is therefore important that staff in residential facilities for older people know how residents can realize psychological and physical activity benefits from their garden visits and how barriers to visitation can disallow or reduce those benefits. Moreover, the siting and design of residential facilities should consider the amount of greenery as an important aspect of outdoor space provisions.'

You can listen to this as a podcast.


Reference

DAHLKVIST E., HARTIG T., NILSSON A., HӦGBERG H., SKOVDAHL K. & ENGSTRӦM M. (2016) Garden greenery and the health of older people in residential care facilities: a multi-level cross-sectional study. Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12968

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