Sensory garden opened for dementia patients

Not even torrential rain could dampen the spirits at the opening of a special garden for people with dementia.

The High Sheriff of Merseyside, the Mayors of Knowsley and Halewood and Jane Harris, director of regional grants at the Steve Morgan Foundation, were among those to attend the opening of Knowsley Dementia Care Support’s sensory garden on Saturday.

The new garden at the back of Liverpool’s Arncliffe Centre was made possible thanks to £72,000 of funding over four years from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

The funding has helped pay the salary of Pat Mairs, who founded Knowsley Dementia Care Support Memory Lane CIC in 2014.

The organisation brought together a group of people whose lives have been touched by caring for close family members suffering from dementia at home.

Memory Lane supports dementia sufferers and their carers with practical and emotional support to deal with the condition.

Structured sessions aimed at helping people to live well with dementia, maintain dignity and avoid the social isolation that generally ensues are run every week in Halewood.

The focus is on memory stimulus, exercise, good health and support strategies for combatting care-giver depression.

Pat said: “The sensory garden offers a safe place for people with dementia and their carers to go. It will be open for the community as well.

“It’s been built around the five senses of taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch. We have wind chimes, fountains and a wishing well. We’re also encouraging people to grow their own vegetables.

“It’s a relaxing place for people with dementia and their carers to get some fresh air and meet like-minded people.”

To date 120 people with an age range of early 30s to mid-90 have been supported at the regular weekly sessions. The youngest dementia sufferer is 50.  A further 90 people who cannot access sessions have been given help and advice over the phone.

The Steve Morgan Foundation has funded Pat’s role with awards totalling £72,000 over four years with the latest cheque presented on Saturday.

Pat said: “The support of the Steve Morgan Foundation has made it all possible. It’s enabled me to commit more time to the group.

“The garden is just the latest initiative. Going forward we’re looking to have our own building so we can provide day care for people with dementia and much-needed respite for their carers.”

Volunteers help with the delivery of all services, from looking after new members, taking payments, running raffles and bingo, supporting carers and participants.

The organisation is currently run by volunteers who have other work commitments and are stretched to capacity.

They want to run a weekly training day for carers at home, a full day care service one day a week and home visits for those who cannot attend.

The Steve Morgan Foundation’s Jane Harris said: “The number of people with dementia is increasing so the work of organisations like Knowsley Dementia Care Support is so important.  The weather may have been awful on Saturday but the occasion was wonderful.”


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