Compass Housing Services has teamed up with the Royal Botanic Gardens and The Disability Trust to build and plant a sensory garden at one of its new Hunter specialist disability accommodation properties.
Sensory gardens allow people to connect with nature by touching, rubbing, smelling and eating the plants. They use plants, water, and other materials with a variety of aromas, textures, colours, noises and shapes to invokes the senses of smell, taste, sight and sound. They are increasingly being used in public spaces, schools, in public housing, and for people with special needs to develop a range of new skills.
Residents of the new, five-bedroom, group home in Mount Hutton will soon be enjoying home grown lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and bush tucker as well as citrus fruits. Additional trees will also be planted on the property. The garden is being funded by Compass Housing as part of its sustainability program.
Compass' sustainability manager, Jandy McCandless, said community gardens are an important part of Compass’ tenant engagement and empowerment programs. Ms McCandless said this garden is Compass’ first truly sensory garden and its first in one of its disability housing properties.
She said in other gardens installed in Compass properties, there have been positive results above and beyond the expected improvements in nutrition and social interaction.
“Community gardens can help tenants to develop life skills as well as reducing social isolation and boredom,”’ Ms McCandless said.
Compass Group managing Director, Greg Budworth said residents of the Mount Hutton property used to live at the Stockton centre. The new group home is one of 69 being built across the region by Home4Life, a joint venture between Compass and BlueCHP. The homes will eventually house approximately 300 people.
Mr Budworth said that the Government has selected six Supported Independent Living (SIL) organisations to provide, highly specialised, 24-hour support at the homes. The Disability Trust manages this home and its staff will help residents care for and enjoy the garden.
“This is a new way of delivering contemporary, high quality, specialist disability accommodation and this sensory garden is a small but important aspect of how we are working with the SILs to create homes for life,” Mr Budworth said.
Brenden Moore from the Royal Botanic Gardens has helped Compass to create other gardens for tenants in other parts of the Hunter and NSW. He joined tenants to build a garden at a Muswellbrook social housing complex earlier this month.
“The Royal Botanic Gardens donates Brenden’s time and bring the hardware for building gardens, the plants and trees, and the knowledge to help residents to enjoy and make the most of their garden.”
Compass is a Hunter-based, Tier 1, not for profit community housing provider and an NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation provider. It manages almost 7,000 properties in NSW and Queensland, including properties for people with disabilities.