Megan Doherty

Our Floriade project lifts spirits in Canberra aged care home | The Canberra Times

news, latest-news, floriade, aged care, spring fever, canberra spring, coronavirus

People living in aged care have had a terribly rough year, if not completely locked down, as in other jurisdictions, at least restricted from what they love to do, with their routines disrupted by fears around the coronavirus. But we have seen aged care homes in Canberra try to adapt and bring some joy to the lives of their residents. Earlier this year, in April, when tensions were high, there was the glorious sight of the carpark concert at Goodwin Village in Farrer. Local crooner Tony Haley played his guitar from the carpark, serenading the residents as they stood out on their balconies, some waving to each other across the way, others swaying to the music. Then, there was the moving Anzac Day, 2020-style, at the Marigal Gardens retirement village in Kambah. Residents rallied to ensure the day was commemorated even though official ceremonies had been cancelled. They delivered home-made poppies and biscuits to the doorway of each of the 71 villas ahead of Anzac Day. Residents then stood in their driveway for a minute’s silence on the day. Now the BaptistCare Carey Gardens aged care centre in Red Hill has sought to brighten the lives of its residents with the Our Floriade project. With social distancing concerns forcing the cancellation of this year’s traditional Floriade in Commonwealth Park, Carey Gardens decided to stage its own version of it. It has been a major project for the centre’s lifestyle coordinator Petrina Becker, staff and residents, with several exhibitions on display, both inside and in the gardens. “The concept of the Our Floriade project came about at the end of June when people were feeling a little flat with the cooler weather,” Ms Becker said. “Floriade and the other beautiful gardens on display around Canberra are something the residents from Carey Gardens always love to visit. However, with the cancellation of Floriade this year due to restrictions caused by COVID-19, understandably, it was a disappointment for our residents. “To lift their spirits, we wanted to do something special and memorable that would bring in aspects of Floriade and give the residents a taste of the community, while still engaging in craft and gardening activities and have something to work towards and together.” The centre received 2000 bellis seedlings from the Floriade: Reimagined program which saw the event spread out across Canberra. Rodney’s Plant Plus also donated plants. A local community member donated pots. The staff donated their time to develop the gardens. “We started planting seeds straight away and building garden planters,” Ms Becker said. “One of the residents in particular, Pietro, was a great help digging out garden beds and preparing for planting. My team and I have been in the garden nearly every afternoon after we finish activities planting and watering. Our gardener Michael and his team have been a great support. They planted out the entire front garden for the Floriade Community Garden.” Ms Becker said residents “gained so much joy and happiness being involved in the project”. They made giant paper flowers, clay leaves, wind chimes, painted rock beetles, made concrete mushrooms and paper butterflies. They also created their own gnome village. Resident Audrey O’Connell said the end result was “absolutely beautiful”. “Better than the real thing,” she reckoned. It was some brightness in a dark year. “The residents and my team really proud of what we have achieved, it is great to relax and enjoy it now,” Ms Becker said. “2020 has been a strange year for all of us. It is great to say the only fever at Carey Gardens is ‘Spring fever’.”

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