Growing Together - Gardening Project Evaluation
It is known that gardening is good for body and mind (Bucksch 2005) but little is documented on how to introduce it to a complex social setting. This project aimed to evaluate the introduction of this health promoting activity to a managed social housing scheme for older people.
This project aims to tackle disadvantage in older people in a managed social housing residence in the developing Seaside area of Eastbourne. The project aims to achieve this by promoting a sustainable gardening project, initially in this residence, for both men and women. There is huge potential to develop this beyond one residence – Eastbourne Homes alone have 5 further residences. The School of Health professions is based in the affluent area of Meads, so developing a profile in lower income areas is desirable.
The project leader aims to foster ‘mutual benefit’ through developing a community gardening partnership between the University of Brighton School Health Professions, residents and management of Eastbourne Homes, and Regional Age Concern.
This project builds on the lessons learned from the CUPP funded ‘Gardening and older People project’ which aimed to establish a community gardening partnership. During the implementation of this project it became clear that an additional factor that needed to be considered was the actual introduction of the gardening as a sustainable activity.
This project will directly enhance teaching and learning, with the experiences and findings being shared with occupational therapy students, and graduate programme participants. It is essential as developing health professionals they view research as an essential part of their role. Both Eastbourne Homes and Age Concern are considering this a ‘pilot’ site. More gardening projects should follow. The project has great potential for growth, and there are opportunities that students could facilitate and research future groups. There is a great deal of ‘gardening’ research interest within the university, and opportunities for further research on a larger scale can be nurtured.
The immediate outcome will be the introduction of gardening, as a health promoting activity, to this residence. The evaluation of this project aims to facilitate the introduction of the activity to further homes. This will also develop a knowledge base in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences from which to advise other care and housing providers on the practical introduction of activities to their residents.
There is potential to have ongoing student involvement in the operation and evaluation of future linked projects. Both Eastbourne Homes and Age Concern are keen to explore this.
The Project leader has made links with the edible campus group, the Health-Environment group, the sustainable development network, and will be the WHOOP ‘activities buddies’ horticulture link. It is anticipated that this project will enhance these links.
The project partners are University of Brighton School of Health Professions who are providing expertise, residents and management of Eastbourne Homes who are providing space, and Regional Age Concern who are funding materials.
Tania Jane Wiseman
University of Brighton
Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy
School of Health Professions