Castle Dene care home, located in Bournemouth and part of Care South, enlisted the help of the Memory Box Foundation to create a specially designed reminiscence garden to evoke childhood memories and spark conversation around life experiences for residents living with dementia.
The gardens have been designed with intricate details to trigger old memories as part of reminiscence therapy, a dementia care initiative which involves discussing events and experiences from the past and aims to relive memories, stimulate mental activity, and improve wellbeing.
From windchimes made from old-fashioned cooking implements, vintage teapots pouring eye-catching crystals, bus stops, chamber pot planters, and other objects from times gone by, the gardens of Castle Dene now help residents reminisce and start conversations. The project was funded by the High Sheriff of Dorset, Nature Heals Seed Fund and was part of an intergenerational project with young people from Townsend Youth Club who helped to make the installations.
In addition to reminiscence objects, the gardens were given a refresh with multi-sensory, colourful, tactile plants and herb gardens, creating a calming presence.
One resident, Kerry, said: “Walking around the garden at Castle Dene is a special experience. It brings back so many precious memories, like cooking for my family and having friends visit for tea and cake. The flowers and herbs that have been planted add something special too.”
The Memory Box Foundation is the charity behind the Inside Out garden project. The Memory Box was set up in 2021 with aims to support those living with dementia, mental health issues and those affected by loneliness and isolation.
The gardens at Castle Dene care home were completed in September 2023.
Kayte West, Co-founder of the Memory Box Foundation, said: “It has been a pleasure to support Castle Dene and help create a special place to evoke happy memories and get people talking. The objects in the garden have been carefully chosen to be a conversation starter and prompt. We’re so pleased that residents have already been able to enjoy the garden and hope they look forward to using it again when the weather is warmer.”
Lana Wright, Home Manager at Castle Dene, added: “Reminiscence is something we like to explore at Castle Dene. All the residents love talking about their memories – it’s usually their favourite subject. The garden looks amazing, and we are very grateful to the Memory Box Foundation for helping create this special place in our home. It is enjoyed by all and will be a hub of Food, Fun and Friendship for years to come.”
Castle Dene care home in Bournemouth, Dorset, accommodates 50 residents and is part of Care South, a not-for-profit charity and leading provider of residential and home care across the south of England.