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Categorized | Case Study, Featured

Case Study: Lenthall Care Home, Market Harborough


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Care homes for elderly people often have a reputation for being places where residents sit in high backed chairs with their backs to the wall, staring into space and waiting for the relative excitement of the next meal. At Lenthall Care Home in Market Harborough, manager Doina Matei has very different ideas and has been working with David Palmer from the Anglican Diocese of Leicester, Sustainable Harborough and our Master Gardeners to create a garden that will encourage residents and their families to get outside in the fresh air and enjoy gardening.
A year after the initial planning meetings, the home’s central courtyard and lawn have been transformed. There are now sturdy raised beds and do-dig veg. beds on the lawn, which supply the kitchen with fresh green beans, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and many other foods less familiar to the residents. The unproductive old apple trees are being renovated and new fruit trees and soft fruit bushes have been donated by Sustainable Harborough. A former ornamental bed of shrubs has been 20170906_151119replaced by a large pumpkin patch, opening the possibility of some intergenerational fun with the pumpkins, which are already glowing orange in the sunshine.
As we tour the garden a carer walks by, pushing a resident in a wheelchair and talking about the tomatoes. As ever, things are slow to change and there is much work to do to encourage more staff to bring the residents outside, but the initial work to create a productive and beautiful space in which they can sit or get involved is done. Residents who are unable to leave the central courtyard without a carer are becoming intrigued, peering through the gate and asking what is happening. Master Gardener Judy Rowley has offered to run some workshops for the staff to help them support the residents in getting actively involved with the garden.
20170906_151503The Friends of Lenthall have taken up the baton and developed the courtyard’s previously tired and run down beds into a series of sensory beds full of bright flowers, scented herbs and edibles like chard. On the central lawn, two young silkie chickens provide interest and the promise of eggs to come. Their fluffy feathers make them popular pets alongside a white rabbit and a couple of guinea-pigs.
We are joined by a young man who is a regular visitor, cutting the grass and tending the beds. He has learning disabilities, but chats enthusiastically about his gardening, bombarding us with questions and ideas and enthusiastically picking beans for the kitchen. He has brought a bag of apples that have fallen from a tree in his garden to add to the compost heap and enters into a spirited exchange about whether he should also tip in some old bread he has brought. He is keen to get busy and so I finish the visit by presenting Mark with a certificate for 100 hours of volunteering that he has contributed to the Master Gardeners programme and leave them to their gardening. I look forward to returning next season and seeing what else they can achieve.

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