Co-designing and implementing rehabilitative gardens for nursing home residents diagnosed with dementia
Tanja Schmidt, University of Southern Denmark
Background: The rise in dementia has in recent decades become a global health concern, with an estimated 47 million people living with dementia worldwide, which is predicted to increase to 75 million by 2030. This poses major burdens on the health care system and especially nursing homes, having to care for a rising number of patients. Horticultural activities and stay in gardens have somewhat shown to have rehabilitative effects on various dementia symptoms and medicine use, although research is inconclusive and flawed.
Purpose: Creating new knowledge on how to successfully design and implement rehabilitative gardens for nursing home residents diagnosed with dementia, with the purpose of decreasing behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) as well as medicine use.
Method: Co-design is used to facilitate a process with older adults with mild to severe dementia, their relatives and caregivers/nursing home staff, leading to specific garden design solutions which will be implemented. Caregivers will simultaneously be trained in how to use the garden effectively for rehabilitation exercises with their patients, and volunteers are recruited to help maintain the garden and support rehabilitative activities. A 2 months-long rehabilitation intervention will be conducted in the garden lead by the caregivers and guided by a professional. The effect of the intervention is measured using systematic and in-depth observations of garden use, as well as standardized clinical tests on BPSD symptoms (Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory, Neuropsychiatric Inventory–Questionnaire, Dementia Quality of Life Instrument) completed by the caregivers before and after the intervention.
Results: We expect to find a reduction in various BPSD symptoms as well as a reduction in medicine use, following an increase in garden use for specific rehabilitation purposes. We also expect to develop specific guidelines and tools on developing and implementing effective rehabilitative gardens to be used nation-wide by practitioners and nursing homes.
Conclusion: This abstract describes the protocol for a co-design and interdisciplinary intervention study, with the purpose of improving the creation and implementation of rehabilitative gardens at nursing homes for older adults diagnosed with dementia.