September is World Alzheimer’s Month – an international campaign to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and challenge stigma associated with the condition. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia which affects memory, thinking, problem solving and language.

Greensleeves Care, a national care charity, has responded to this challenge by introducing a dementia service at all its care homes including Croxley House in Rickmansworth. As part of its dementia service, the charity has changed the way it recruits and trains its staff and has created a dementia friendly culture within all its care homes. The care provided to residents is based on the principles of ‘personhood’ by Dr Tom Kitwood. He identified that all human beings have the need for comfort, attachment, inclusion, occupation and identity. These needs are even more significant for those living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

In a spirit of person-centred care, Croxley House built a ‘Green House’ where residents with dementia can participate in an outdoor activity, to make their life varied and interesting. Two of the residents became actively involved in the project, enjoying the work and feeling proud of the vegetables they have grown. When they shared their excitement with other residents, more residents showed interest in wishing to join the Green House activities. The Green House is designed and built for purpose and is W/C accessible. The work-top is designed to fit around the client with mobility issues or other disabilities for the ease and convenience of working with pots, soil and other tools.

Maria Baughurst, Home Manager at Croxley House said: “We are delighted that the Green House proved to be such a success. The Green House is run and managed by the residents with minimal input from the staff here at Croxley House. Staff involvement is to ensure that the work area is safe and secure for any of the resident to work. The residents enjoy gardening and we have noticed how much pleasure they get from working together tending vegetables, as well as the social interaction it facilitates, away from the normal routine.”

During the growing season, residents tend to the vegetables, water them and nurture them to grow. Over time they have grown courgettes, carrots and tomatoes. Once the vegetables are harvested, the residents wash them, cut and prep them ready to be cooked in Croxley House’s kitchen by the care home’s Chef.