February 16, 2012
Friendship Retirement Community's Wandering Garden --- a relaxing courtyard offering outdoor respite for patients with dementia and related illnesses --- has been cited as an example of excellence.
The Environments for Aging Showcase selected the Wandering Garden as one of 36 projects around the nation deserving to be included in Long Term Care magazine's annual design issue, due out in April. A panel of architects, interior designers, regulators, academics, healthcare providers and consultants made the recommendation.
The 10,000-square-foot space, securely fenced along Friendship's Health and Rehab Center's memory care unit, features 50 yards of walkways, an eight-sided gazebo with picnic tables and chairs, and non-toxic plants and bushes.
"We are delighted to be nationally recognized for our vision to design and create an all-season outdoor oasis especially for memory-challenged residents," said Russ Barksdale, president and CEO of Friendship Retirement Community. "Every element of the new Wandering Garden promotes wellness and contributes to the quality of life of our residents."
The garden's narrow straightaway sidewalks were replaced with wide and curving, zero-entry walkways that follow the entire perimeter of the garden, ensuring no sudden stops or edges. The walkways feature a warm color to reduce glare (sometimes an unwelcomed patient stimulant) and are textured for slip-resistance.
Old, randomly situated picnic benches were replaced with curved benches and strategically positioned throughout the garden to gently facilitate interaction while also allowing residents to sit and enjoy their surroundings peacefully without directly confronting others if they choose not to.
Every area of the garden was carefully designed to provide something to delight the senses. The light fragrance of French Lavender and Manchurian Lilacs fill the air in spring while Hillspire Junipers and Barbeque Rosemary provide visual stimulation all year long. All of the vegetation in the Wandering Garden is completely non-toxic, allowing all of the residents the opportunity to safely enjoy its many splendors.
A therapy ramp encourages light exercise while raised wooden flower beds offer opportunities for residents to get involved in planting and weeding. The garden --- capped by a white Chesterfield fence with Victorian accent --- provides security and privacy without looking institutional.