University Of Tasmania

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“I used to be a gardener”: communal gardens as conduits for Age Care residents to activity, identity, and to others

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 19:02 authored by Pauline MarshPauline Marsh, Hannah FielderHannah Fielder

This paper reports on a recent study conducted in the south of Tasmania involving residents of a rural age care facility. We aimed to understand how residents, including people living with dementia, access communal garden sites and whether this fostered the acts of gardening and social engagement. The research arose from concerns raised by members of a supported community gardening program, DIGnity. For the first 6 months of this unique therapeutic horticulture program, residents from the local RACF were regularly attending. However, after a winter break the residents did not return, and an on-site garden had been established in the facility.

Was this on-site RACF garden a more suitable site, or a less-than adequate solution designed to accommodate institutional restrictions?

Using a process consent method, 13 semi-structured interviews were held with residents, family members and staff. Results show multi-faceted ways residents relate to and access communal garden sites and important ways people living with dementia were able to maintain their identities as gardeners, improve their quality of life and assuage loneliness. Importantly, they enabled people to find meaning and maintain their sense of self. However, accessing the communal garden sites both in and outside of the facility was challenging.


Publication title

The 2019 Institute of Australian Geographers Conference


School of Health Sciences

Event title

The 2019 Institute of Australian Geographers Conference

Event Venue

Hobart, Tasmania

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Arts not elsewhere classified; Evaluation of health and support services not elsewhere classified; Rural and remote area health

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