Stepping outdoors with Sheffield dementia patients

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A CARE home in Sheffield is promoting a sunny, green-fingered approach to life as it takes part in a national survey on dementia care.

Springwood Residential Home, on Herries Road, is part of a chain of 11 homes operated across the city by charitable organisation SheffCare.

The home, which has a number of residents living with dementia, has been chosen by environmental design expert Dr Garuth Chalfont to participate in research into the ways connections to the natural world can benefit residents with dementia.

Since doing his PhD at Sheffield University school of architecture, Dr Chalfont has been working closely with SheffCare residents who have dementia.

He has helped Springwood create several garden areas to enhance the outdoor experience of people with dementia.

The homes are now being asked to evaluate how well the gardens are used.

Dr Chalfont said: “Connection to nature and being outdoors has a profound impact on a person’s wellbeing.

“It provides sensory stimulation, fresh air, vitamin D and orientation to time of day and the seasons.

“People sleep better and eat better and if a person is happier and more relaxed, they will probably need less medication and they are less likely to develop behaviours that are challenging to the family and staff who care for them.”

Dr Chalfont’s survey asks staff to monitor how often residents go outdoors, how long they stay and the activities they undertake.

He said the study has already shed light on the benefits that nature can bring to dementia patients and the way it stimulates their memories.