This Yorkshire care home has created a fake park to revive nostalgia among elderly residents with dementia.
By Susie Beever – Yorkshire Post
Elderly residents at a care home in West Yorkshire have been able to hark back to strolls in the park thanks to a selfless group of artists.
A 'pop-up park' was set up at Oak Tree Lodge home in Leeds last month, where residents were able to immerse themselves in a lush green space complete with pebble water fountains, nostalgic gingham tablecloths and bunting.
The project, which staff called Oak Tree Park, was created by Fragments, an artistic group which creates immersive sensory environments for elderly people in care homes who have dementia.
Elderly people at the home were even able to enjoy craft sessions and music afternoons in the revamped space inside a cinema room, which was designed in a way to invoke nostalgia and fond memories of the local area.
Children from a nearby school have also visited the home's temporary park to play games craft flowers into faux flower pots with residents.
Resident Eileen Winn said the project felt like "being outdoors in the fresh air" again.
The 81-year-old said: “It was amazing, the best thing ever. I thoroughly enjoyed the events they put on for us in the park, and it was lovely to spend time surrounded by nature, feeling like I was outdoors in the fresh air.
"Having the children from the local school visit was wonderful, and certainly livened up the place."
Oak Tree Lodge manager Kirsty Fennell said: “The Pop up Park had such a brilliant reaction from our residents, who could enjoy positive stimulation within a safe, warm environment. They loved being able to admire the greenery, touch the plants and feel connected to nature.
"We’re always looking for ways to make our residents’ later years as positive and meaningful as possible, and the garden did just that – it really brightened up their week.”
Although the pop-up park was only hosted for a week, Oak Tree Lodge and Fragments have joined forces and are now creating a permanent environment to bring elements of the outside into the care home to be enjoyed by residents for years to come.
Lily Craig, Lead Artist at Fragments, says: “We wanted to create a space that encapsulated residents’ powerful memories of nature and turned the space into a place where those memories could be used to formulate new feelings and experiences for residents, families and carers.
“The week we spent at Oak Tree lodge creating this space with residents and staff will always be a treasured experience.
"The park taught us that the special moments can come in any size, at any time with anyone. We are looking forward to continuing our work with Kirsty and the team at Oak Tree as we begin to transform another space in their care home permanently.”