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Sensory garden to reduce social isolation, boredom


Homegrown lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and bush tucker will soon be on the menu for residents at a specialist disability accommodation property in Mount Hutton.

Not-for-profit community housing provider Compass Housing has teamed up with the Royal Botanic Gardens and The Disability Trust to build and plant a new sensory garden.

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.

The 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. 

Compass Housing’s Sustainability Manager, Jandy McCandless, says this garden is Compass’ first truly sensory garden and its first in one of its disability housing properties.

She adds that, 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 says.

Compass Housing Group Managing Director, Greg Budworth says 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 says 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 says.

The Royal Botanic Gardens has helped Compass to create gardens for tenants in other parts of the Hunter and NSW, including at a social housing complex in Muswellbrook.

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