Belfast care home opens ‘magical memory’ garden for people living with dementia

Sarah Travers hosted the launch of the magical memory garden. Picture by William Cherry // Press Eye

An on-site caravan will be used to recall family holidays as part of a series of reminiscence areas in a first for Northern Ireland.

The care home recreation area’s pathways and areas flow from one to another with no dead ends, a barrier for someone with the condition.

A car port offers enthusiasts the opportunity to polish the wheels while a large garden shed houses a Men’s Sheds project and there is a corner for caring for animals plus a serene secret space for quiet time.

Geraldine Gilpin, chief executive of Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association, said: “We were keen to create a magical space for residents, their families and friends, and one which can also be used by people in the community with dementia and their carers.”

It opened on Tuesday at the Palmerston Residential Care Home.

Mrs Gilpin added: “For people living with dementia it is important to stimulate different senses.

“They may forget where they are living in time and place, but they can recognise and experience aspects of a garden – the open sky, sounds of the outside environment, and trees blowing in the wind.

“This is a freedom we can all connect with.”

Research conducted by The Alzheimer’s Society in 2013 showed only 35% of people living with dementia get outside every week

Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister said: “The number of people on the dementia register in Northern Ireland has risen from 9,550 to 13,617 in the last 10 years and as a local authority, we are constantly looking at the evolving needs of our community and working in partnership with others to address these.”

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