So healthy is the works in the Green Gardens have long been regarded as well-being oases and places of strength. Recently, the healing effects of gardening were also discovered. The raking, planting, watering, weeding, plucking and harvesting is used for therapeutic purposes – with considerable success, as two examples from Lower Austria prove.
The time for dinner is approaching – and Mrs. M. has something to do. The elderly woman moves in her wheelchair to the shady terrace of the nursing home. Your goal: a table with plants. There is her own personal mini-garden, there grow herbs that she has grown some time ago. She picks a bunch of chives and some parsley and rolls back into the dining room, where her table neighbors are eagerly waiting for her. Today, they will enjoy the soup especially well, today the herbs of Mrs. M. provide the spicy whistle.
Ms. M. had longed for her life to refine the meals of her loved ones with fresh herbs and vegetables from her own garden. She is now able to indulge her passion as a resident of the Pensioners’ Home – despite limited mobility since she has been wheelchair-bound. “In addition to numerous green areas and a biotope, we have wheelchair-accessible plant tables, where up to 15 people can carry out light gardening,” says Viktor Spitzer, director of the state pensioner and nursing home Wilhelmsburg in Lower Austria. “Gardening is extremely popular. Each of our hobby gardeners looks after their own raised bed together with a volunteer. There sprout flowers, herbs or vegetables. Gardening represents a huge enrichment for the elderly. They take responsibility for a small piece of earth, which increases their independence and self-esteem enormously. The seniors are at work with great dedication, because they feel: ‘I am still someone who can do something else!’ Such experiences are very important for their quality of life. ”
Gardening is also good for the motor skills of seniors. By weeding, smoothing the earth or plucking on the plants, they make countless fine and gross motor movements and thus automatically carry out important occupational therapy exercises.
Equally important: The garden area of the home is a communication center. Maybe that’s why the seniors called the garden terrace of the nursing home “Paradiesgartl”.
“There is talk about, for example, how the plants thrive. Some proudly present their colorful flowers to visitors and family members. Others argue because berries have disappeared from some bed. In a word, life is throbbing like a marketplace, and that’s extremely important to me, “enthuses Director Spitzer.
Patients grow organic vegetables
The City Farm of the Emmausgemeinschaft St. Pölten takes a different approach, but can also register considerable therapeutic successes. On a large area near the river Traisen, patients with mental illnesses and long-term unemployed people grow organic vegetables. Also flowers and herbs are planted here.
“We are a work organization,” says occupational therapist Gabriele Kellner. “Our clients all live externally – in a shared flat or with their families – and come to work on the City Farm. And here we are mainly devoted to growing vegetables, from sowing to grooming and harvesting to processing. “Some of the work also involves cultivating the gardens of external customers in the St. Pölten area.
The success of gardening is something to be proud of. “Some psychiatric patients had a bad illness before gardening, had to go to the hospital several times a year. Thanks to the garden therapy, the resulting regular daily routine and the continuous close support, the number of hospital days could be significantly reduced “, says Univ. Dr. Doz. Stefan Frühwald, Medical Director of the Psychosocial Service of Caritas St. Pölten and Consultant Specialist of the City Farm. Some patients have even re-entered the work process.
Healthy work cycle
And that’s not just about working in the fresh air. “Activity and exercise are basically healing, that’s been known since time immemorial. But also work as meaningful activity has something salutary, because it creates structure. And that is very important for our patients. Getting up in the morning, going to work or driving, doing the work. This sounds trivial, but whoever has no structure or falls out of a structure can become depressed, as is unfortunately often the case with the unemployed, “says Prof. Frühwald.
Tune to patients
The work in the Gardens of the City Farm is tailored to the deficits and resources of the patients. For example, people with less resilience and endurance can do simpler work with clear guidelines, such as repotting plants. On the other hand, persons with excess energy can spend their energy on harder gardening in a healthy way and thus find better body awareness. On the field or in the bushes gross motor movement patterns are trained, fine motor skills improved.
Working on the City Farm is not just therapeutic. Because here also organic vegetables are to be produced for the other facilities of the Emmausgemeinschaft and for their own use. Speaking of personal needs: The “fruits of work” are prepared and consumed by the patients under the guidance of chefs. Another reason why gardening is so well received by those affected.
Source: Medizin Populaer