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A Garden for the Senses on the Central Coast

15 Dec 2020

A Garden for the Senses on the Central Coast

Compass Housing Services (Compass) has teamed up with the Royal Botanic Gardens and Cerebral Palsy Alliance to build and plant-out a wheelchair accessible sensory garden at one of its new specialist disability accommodation (SDA) properties on the Central Coast.

Residents of the new group home in Long Jetty will soon be enjoying home grown lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs. Sensory gardens allow people to connect with nature by touching, rubbing, smelling as well as eating the plants. This garden incorporates matting, stones, and wind pipes to invoke the senses of sight and sound.

The garden is funded by Compass as part of its sustainability program and is the first to be installed in a Compass property on the Central Coast.

Compass' Sustainability Manager, Jandy McCandless, said community gardens are increasingly being used in public spaces, schools, in public housing, and for people with special needs to develop a range of new skills.

Ms McCandless said community gardens are an important part of Compass’ tenant and resident engagement programs. She said in other community 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 and residents to develop life skills and bring residents together,” Ms McCandless said.

Compass Group Managing Director, Greg Budworth said residents of the home used to live at Newcastle’s Stockton Centre and all use wheelchairs. The new group home is one of 65 built across the region by Home4Life, a joint venture between Compass and BlueCHP. The homes will eventually house approximately 300 people. There are five such homes on the Central Coast.

Mr Budworth said that the NSW Government has selected six Supported Independent Living (SIL) organisations to provide, highly specialised, 24-hour support at the homes. Cerebral Palsy Alliance manages this home and its staff will help residents care for and enjoy the garden.

“This is a new way of delivering modern, quality, specialist disability accommodation,” Mr Budworth said.

This garden is a small but important aspect of how we are working with the SILs to create homes for life,” he said.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance house manager Alfred Oduro said throughout COVID, resident outings were limited so we needed to be resourceful and find activities that could be done in and around the house.

“Activities such as this community garden mean that residents can find enjoyment and purpose in the safety of their home,” Mr Oduro said.

Brenden Moore from the Royal Botanic Gardens has helped Compass to create other gardens for tenants in other parts of NSW. 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. It manages 690 properties on the Central Coast.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) has been providing supported short and long-term accommodation for people with a range of disabilities for more than 60 years. It provides 24-hour in home care to more than 400 people living with complex physical and / or physical disabilities across more than 100 homes in Sydney, Central Coast and the Hunter.

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