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‘I used to be a gardener’: connecting aged care residents to gardening and to each other through communal garden sites


Fielder, H and Marsh, P, I used to be a gardener': connecting aged care residents to gardening and to each other through communal garden sites, Australasian Journal on Ageing, 40, (1) pp. e29-e36. ISSN 1440-6381 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2020 AJA Inc.

DOI: doi:10.1111/ajag.12841


Objective: To explore residential aged care facility (RACF) residents’ use of communal garden sites as spaces for gardening and social connection.

Methods: Phenomenological inquiry using semi‐structured interviews with 13 residents, family members and staff of a rural RACF.

Results: Interest, ability and willingness to engage in communal garden sites were evident but limited by multiple factors. Data highlighted the complexities of accessing gardens, gardening and other people. An enduring identity as a gardener provided a framework for maintaining a link between gardening, finding meaning and maintaining a sense of self.

Conclusions: Communal garden sites can improve quality of life and enable connectedness for RACF residents. However, a range of personal, attitudinal, institutional and resource‐related challenges create barriers to gardening, and in the RACF isolation and inactivity persist. We conclude that these challenges might be overcome through provision of physical and emotional support for positive risk‐taking, autonomy and access to the outside to continue gardening.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:therapeutic landscapes, ageing, therapeutic horticulture, rural health, communal gardens, dementia, residential aged care, social connection
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Human geography not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Rural and remote area health
UTAS Author:Fielder, H (Ms Hannah Fielder)
UTAS Author:Marsh, P (Dr Pauline Marsh)
ID Code:140780
Year Published:2021 (online first 2020)
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2020-09-07
Last Modified:2021-05-24

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