ROCKDALE HOUSE CARE HOME – THE GARDEN PROJECT
Background to the project:
We have been working on an exciting and improved garden at Rockdale House Care Home.
Rockdale House is a purpose-built residential care home in the centre of Sevenoaks, built in 2013 within the meadow gardens of Rockdale Housing Association’s land.
Ros Ward became the Registered Manager of Rockdale House Care Home during the pandemic, when residents were unable to see their loved ones. During the lockdown, Ros and her colleagues became increasingly aware of the need for better use of the garden for our care home residents and started to look at how the area could be improved to provide a larger accessible space for residents to enjoy outdoor activity. The outdoor space would include raised beds for residents to help with planting, a central water feature (using the existing structure) and sensory plants.
Ros and the staff started fundraising for the garden and made contacts within the community to support the work. The Head Gardener of Penshurst Place kindly supported us with expert suggestions and introductions to contacts for design and pricing. Ros said:
“It is not often a care home can boast they have received help and support from a stately home in their endeavors to improve the facilities for the residents. Rockdale House is extremely grateful to the many people who contributed to make this new garden possible and especially to Tony Wiseman from Penshurst Place who was there to guide us initially”.
At the end of February 2022, the hard landscaping was completed and the garden designer who has volunteered her time to prepare the garden design plans, Amanda Hopkins is now preparing a planting plan ready for residents to enjoy the Spring and Summer in their newly refurbished garden at Rockdale House Care Home.
We are extremely grateful to Tony Wiseman, Amanda Hopkins, and all those who have kindly donated to the garden refurbishment to date.
Amanda Hopkins garden design contact details and the concept for the garden can be found here.
About the project
Rockdale House Care Home has a capacity for 50 elderly residents who either require assistance with living or have come to the home for respite care.
The residents have experienced a difficult eighteen months, at times being confined to their rooms as Rockdale experienced an outbreak of Coronavirus. Lockdown proved to be a difficult period for the residents and it was during this time that it was realised that the potential of the rear garden could be made into a more attractive and accessible area for the residents to enjoy.
To provide an accessible path and more attractive garden for the Rockdale residents where they can experience purposeful exercise in a safe environment with beautiful surroundings. The garden will be low maintenance but filled with plants that are colourful and aromatic. Every effort will be made to ensure that there is interest throughout the year.
In making this garden, the residents will be included and consulted at each stage.
Aims of the project
There is a very limited level of access to enable residents to walk outside the home at the moment, and so it is one of the important aims of the project to create a pathway. This path needs to be wheelchair accessible and have a smooth surface to make pushing a wheelchair easy.
Raised Central Flower/Shrub Beds
Raised central flowerbeds to be lined with a weed protector material and covered in bark to ensure the area does not have to be weeded.
The existing water feature needs attention to become an integral part of the garden where residents can sit and enjoy the sound of water.
This Garden Project is a fantastic opportunity for the local community to work together and we are already talking with the Head Gardener at Penshurst Place, who has kindly visited us to provide more ideas and has offered his guidance for the project working with our own Head Gardener.
For the residents, it will ensure an ongoing interest where their views and ideas are embellished.
Moreover, it will also give opportunities for the local community to be involved, such as local schools and voluntary organisations, to participate in a really worthwhile project.
Thank you for taking the time to read through our initiative.