Imagine, being completely disconnected from nature, spending time primarily indoors, in a sterile hospital like environment.
That is the experience of most residents in long term care- complete disconnection from nature. It's rare that they get to go outside, for various reasons, from temperature to staff shortage, to medical conditions.
Insert PlantPals. PlantPals, ALMA’s original program, first launched in February 2018 with a focus on reconnecting residents in nursing homes to nature. PlantPal volunteers, visit residents in nursing homes and bring nature with them.
The original activity was volunteers and residents partnered up as “plantpals” to paint pots, and plant plants together, which residents keep. Intention is infused into the experience and the plant is used as a metaphor. Volunteers ask elders what they want to see grow… hope, friendship, connection, health and love are common answers, while others chose to write loved ones names, all which lead to rich sharing and conversation.
Since, PlantPals has blossomed, now bringing a range of nature inspired experiences to older adults.
Why is engaging seniors with nature important?
We know that connecting with nature brings vitality and health into our lives.
Studies now show that nature in therapeutic settings (horticulture therapy) bring many benefits. From reduces stress, agitation, depression, and pain, to lowering of 'as needed' medications, antipsychotics, to reducing the number of falls.
Therapeutic gardens and horticulture therapy stimulate the senses and create soothing environments. They help residents regain lost skills and learn new ones, improve memory and attention, and promote social interaction.
Doterra Healing Hands has generously supported PlantPals, donating essential oils to be used with the residents and caregivers. PlantPals provides diffusers to each nursing home impacting the physical and emotional environment of convalescent homes.