What difference do your surroundings make to how you feel?

Working in a care home in High Wycombe supporting people with severe learning disabilities, I’ve seen first-hand just how much of a difference it can make to our service users.

We’re lucky to have a large garden where everyone can sit outside when the weather is nice but like a lot of people we didn’t make the most of it. Our garden was previously just a large green space, which as you can imagine, wasn’t very engaging for our service users.

I decided to spend a bit of time researching sensory gardens and getting inspiration from others. I realised our garden could be transformed into a relaxing space which stimulates your senses. Sensory gardens can also improve mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and help with negative thoughts and feelings, including anxiety and fear.

We didn’t have a lot of money to spend so we asked staff and the local community for any donations such as second-hand garden furniture, plant pots, wood to create frames, paints; stones or decorative beads and even old wellington boots. It turned out to be a great way to upcycle materials, which would otherwise be thrown away.

We kick-started our sensory garden by planning a day for service users' families, staff and even some of our friendly neighbours to help with painting and planting. We put on a BBQ to thank all the volunteers for their time and luckily the sun came out!

A local garage donated tyres which were no longer road worthy and we painted them in bright colours and filled them with compost and planted herbs, strawberries and raspberries. We also added bright, reflective decorations in the patio area.

It takes a bit of time and some helpful volunteers but doesn’t cost a lot of money and really does make a big difference to our service users and their everyday life. Just to see them smile makes it all worth it!

Check out some of the photos below:

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Teresa Williams