The gardens won the 2011 Hospital, Nursing Homes and Retirement Village category in the renowned Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers competition. Winners were announced last night.
Soft petals to touch, bright colours to see, birds to hear and floral scents to smell are just some of the sensory characteristics the gardens possess.
Blue Care Executive Director Robyn Batten said research showed sensory gardens could be effective in reducing anxiety and improving the mood and physical health of people with dementia.
“The gardens have been designed to provide people with dementia and their families a safe environment, which offers meaningful experiences and encourages reflection,” Ms Batten said.
“Many Blue Care Toowoomba dementia clients grew up on the Darling Downs so we wanted the design to be symbolic of the region’s history.
“We’ve also incorporated a variety of colours, scents, textures and sounds to stimulate the senses and evoke positive feelings and enjoyable memories for our clients.”
Blue Care Residential Support Officer Stuart Donohoe said safety was a priority when designing the garden with wheelchair access and low trip hazard features incorporated.
“We want clients to be free to wander around without someone escorting them,” Mr Donohoe said.
“The garden has a water theme but for safety reasons, there is a functioning bridge with a speaker system playing water sound effects and a water mural to create the idea of water.”
The name of the gardens is Minna Murra Gardens to acknowledge the traditional Aboriginal name for the region.
Mr Donohoe said the sensory garden was not only for clients with dementia – residents, carers and families would have access, as well as community and respite groups.
“The garden will host barbeques, gardening groups and exercise groups to encourage greater involvement from the community and to demystify the notion of secure dementia care,” he said.
“Local schools will be invited to contribute to the garden through the provision of murals and other artworks on an ongoing basis.”
Mr Donohoe said he would like to thank the staff from the Government’s Dementia Policy and Programs section and also Bunning’s Warehouse, Toowoomba West, who kindly donated some funds for the purchase of additional plants.
Blue Care Toowoomba Village Aged Care Facility is located at 256 Stenner Street, Toowoomba.