Developing a Meaningful Garden Space in a Care Home with Staff and Family Members: A Qualitative Study

C. Giebel*, B. de Boer, M. Gabbay, C. Watkins, N. Wilson, H. Tetlow, H. Verbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Care home residents are often passive and lack active engagement in meaningful activities. The aim of this qualitative study was to co-develop a plan for a meaningful garden space in an urban care home in the north of England, to inform the subsequent building of such a garden space on the care home premises. Methods: Members of staff participated in focus groups conducted at the care home. Family carers were interviewed by telephone. Both focus groups and interviews were audio-recorded, with transcripts analysed independently using thematic analysis by two researchers, and consensus achieved on final themes. Findings: Two focus groups with staff (n = 17) and seven interviews with family carers were held. Thematic analysis generated seven key themes for the garden about its meaning and environmental features: (1) Current opinions on physical environment; (2) access; (3) adaptation to the environment; (4) staffing; (5) socialising; (6) sensory features; and (7) active meaningful participation. The garden needed to be accessible to residents in wheelchairs, and in all weathers and seasonal conditions, as well as being adapted to the needs of people living with dementia. Areas for social activities, such as picnics, and intergenerational activities, as well as private spaces, were recommended. Throughout the garden, sensory features were suggested, incorporating the use of vision, smell, touch, and sound, such as through water features. Moreover, it was recommended that residents should be able to contribute to the delivery of the activities themselves, including through a cafe and a vegetable garden. Conclusions: Family carers and staff considered that the garden would benefit from an intensive update to meet the needs of residents. This study therefore has practical implications for care home design, which are of even greater importance since the pandemic, as outdoor spaces were considered safer for care home visiting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7025
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • care homes
  • garden
  • meaningful activities
  • co-production

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