A Look at LCGD Graduate Luke Arend’s SGD Student Award Shortlisted Getting Out Garden

In Luke’s words

This garden is all about function, but an important one. The aim is for care home residents with dementia “getting out” into the garden and nature, and soak up all the therapeutic benefits being outdoors offers. This is my final project at the LCGD, and the one I am most proud of.  I have a health background and I’m really into gardens for improving health.

When I first visited Grimston Court residential care home near York, I was amazed at the scale of the wonderful 8.5-acre grounds and beautiful Jacobean manor house.  However walking into the house my heart sank as nearly all of the 47 residents were sitting in the dayroom, with nobody outside enjoying the lovely day because the grounds hadn’t yet been adapted, In fact the doors were locked.  I knew then I wanted to find a solution to make these magnificent parklands accessible to the residents.  It seemed a wonderful opportunity.

The design concept came from group discussions with residents and family members.  Residents shared with me how much they missed working and relaxing in their own gardens, but also how much they missed getting into the countryside and outdoors in general.  They fondly reminisced about trips to the coast, to woods, to National Trust gardens and country walks.

The simple design concept of “ Home and Countryside” evolved by creating two main zones within the gardens to bring together the two outdoor joys of residents from their lives before coming to the care home: spending time in their garden and having trips out to the countryside.

The first inner “home” zone is a securely contained garden, accessible by foot/shuffling or wheelchair, which is freely accessible to residents with the doors unlocked. The garden aims to be a recognisable and familiar scale and design to their 1970-1990 style domestic family garden. It includes familiar features such as a rose garden, nostalgic and sensory planting, a 1970’s caravan and gazebo with a memory wall.  This inner garden offers areas of active and passive therapy, areas to socialise, areas for more intimate chats with family members of friends and to encourage exercise and gardening.

The wider garden is the second zone for immersive ‘trips out into the countryside”. It is accessible by innovations in accessible electric vehicles, which staff or visiting family members can take their parent on a ‘trip out’ to different character areas along a buggy route.  The route moves through the existing mature broadleaf woodland, through a new fruit orchard, to the goats/pet area, the children adventure area through a large wildflower meadow, to a large new pond.  Along the route are cabins, pavilions, picnic areas, seating under feature trees and four walks off the buggy route, which are short enough for most residents to be able to walk along.

The designs aims to make the garden a pull factor for visiting family members and encourage them to stay longer and visit more frequently.  To entice (great) grandchildren to visit there is an elevated ‘Go ape” style adventure play area and sports lawn.  For family members to have quality time with their parent there are private spaces near the house or they can take a “trip out” in the grounds with a buggy, away from the house and other residents.

The design also includes: an amended driveway route with a Lutyen-esque hide-reveal –hide-reveal meander to heighten the sense of arrival at the home.  There are planting beds, which wrap around the rear of the home, so that there are appealing views from residents bedrooms.  As per the brief there is an enlarged parking area for visitors and staff, and a staff garden near the door that staff uses for their revitalisation.

Although this is a hypothetical student project, Wellburn Care Homes who own the home want to develop this buggy route concept for Grimston Court, which is thrilling!

Our thanks to Luke for supplying the image of the garden.