Redrow under-graduates are helping to bring back the memories of dementia patients after creating a sensory garden at a Deeside hospital, in North Wales.
Seven students, who are all undertaking work placements with Redrow Homes across the country, teamed up to create the special outdoor area at Deeside Community Hospital, which is pioneering a host of projects to help people regain their sense of purpose and foster a new enjoyment of life, in spite of the heart-breaking illness.
“And we couldn’t be more grateful to Redrow,” said Deborah Fogg, dementia support worker. “We are absolutely thrilled. The garden is amazing and it is already having an incredible effect on both staff and patients here.
“The garden was previously well-kept but it was not suitable or a safe environment for the patients with dementia, who we want to encourage away from their bedsides, and stimulate their senses to reawaken memories and, even, just get outside to improve their health and well-being.”
Speaking during the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Awareness Week (May 14-20, 2017), Deborah added: “Only the other day one lady saw a yoyo hanging from a tree and remembered having one as a child; a gentleman smelt the mint in the herb garden and recalled his mother growing mint in their cottage garden from when he was a little boy.
“When a patient is in a calming environment like a garden, they feel more comfortable to talk about themselves and often speak about personal memories, which helps us as a team to enhance the patient’s self-esteem.”
As more and more people are being diagnosed with neurological conditions like dementia, it is vital that places like Deeside Community Hospital, in Plough Lane, Higher Shotton, help them to regain a quality of life, and a better way of living with the condition.
The garden is part of a suite which includes a purpose designed sitting room as well as a room for crafts and activities. This was the brainchild of Matron Cheryl Froom and Deborah, whose aim is to motivate patients and encourage an active lifestyle which can combat the debilitating effects of dementia. The suite of rooms stimulate all five senses, with music, natural sounds and colourful and fragrant planting and herbs; it also has a beach area and a potting shed, so patients can get involved too.
The Redrow under-graduates who worked on the scheme were given no budget and had to dig deep into their negotiating skills to garner donations and favours from suppliers and sub-contractors to create the perfect haven.
One of them, Jack Bennion, 20, is working for Redrow’s North West technical department in Daresbury, near Warrington, while studying architectural technology at Nottingham Trent University.
Jack, from Frodsham, said: “It was quite stressful working on the project at times, but enjoyable and so rewarding to have created the garden. When we do the day to day job we feed off someone else but, for this, it was our project, our baby, and for us to encounter – and deal with – the obstacles and problems which others usually face on our behalf.
“It was a real learning curve and, as I was involved in many of the discussions, a lesson in work-life, understanding and dealing with other people’s views and emotions.”
He added: “Knowing too that it will have such a huge impact on people’s lives, and that we have done something so worthwhile for the community, gives you a huge buzz.”
Working on a community project of this nature is an annual event for Redrow’s cohort of under-graduates, who are among the 15% of Redrow employees who are either apprentices, graduates or trainees.
Clare Horton, new entrant programmes manager for Redrow, which has its UK headquarters at St David’s Park, Ewloe, supported the team and said: “I am extremely proud of all the students. They work really hard all year and put in extra effort to create the sensory garden.
“It was humbling and heart-warming to see the effect it had on them personally, as well as the patients and the staff at Deeside Community Hospital. Redrow is delighted to have been involved and we’re really grateful to all the sub contractors and suppliers who have donated time and resources.”
Deborah added: “One patient walked into the garden and sat with a member of staff on a bench and said ‘I can hear the birds, I haven’t heard the birds for a very long time’. That is amazing. That is the difference.”
Redrow is very grateful to the following contractors and suppliers who helped and donated to the project:
• Flintshire Crane Hire Ltd
• Kenny’s Waste Management
• Lex Autolease
• Branwells Construction
• C&W Berry Ltd
• CWT Landscape Supplies
• National Hickman
• Paul Sellick Brickwork Ltd
• Smalley Painters & Decorators
• Speedy Hire
• Town & Country Vibro Ltd
• Trevor Bridge Associates
• Peter Benson Plywood Ltd
• Bennetts Architectural Ironmongery
• Fence Right Fencing Services
• Wroxton Contracting
• Hatter’s Promotional Merchandise
• Sign Build
• CA design
• LWBennion Building & Landscape Services
• B&Q Wrexham
• Jack Moody Group
• Mackins Landscaping
Redrow was established in 1974. Today, it is one of the most successful and acclaimed property developers in the UK, building around 5,000 premium quality family homes a year in prime locations across England and Wales. Over Redrow’s history spanning more than 40 years, it has earned a unique reputation for quality and building beautiful homes, which people love to live in. To help achieve this it also focusses on two other key areas: valuing people and creating outstanding locations. Implementing its strategy whilst engaging with colleagues and stakeholders helps Redrow deliver significant value to investors and the wider community. Redrow is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 index. For the year ended 30th June 2016, the Group reported record revenues of £1.38 billion. Redrow has been awarded the ‘Best Large Housebuilder’ title twice in the last three years at the What House? Awards. This year, Redrow was named as a UK Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer for the fourth consecutive year. Visit redrow.co.uk for more details.