Debbie Carroll and Mark Rendell of Step Change Design explain how care settings can facilitate a cultural change in the perception and use of their outdoor space
Creating more actively used outside spaces at care settings is not dependent on an appropriate budget allocation, needing more care staff, or even the lure of a pretty space. According to our research,1, 2 the garden’s success will ultimately depend on how advanced the care culture is (i.e. its way of delivering care) at that setting.
We identified that the key influence on engagement levels with the outdoors lies with the care setting’s attitudes, values, and practices towards both residents and the outside space it already has. Those care settings in our study delivering more advanced, person, and relationship-centred care practices were engaging more actively with their outside spaces regardless of their condition or appearance because their care culture naturally focused on facilitating stepping outdoors as and when residents wished to do so
Consequently, we focused on how best to communicate this correlation between care culture and active outdoor engagement and decided to present our main findings in the format of an interactive culture change tool, The care culture map, alongside a supporting handbook.3 Later, we added an A3 infographic poster for care staff with a range of hints and tips to increase engagement outdoors based on the quantitative data we had gathered from our research. Both these publications are aimed at helping care settings understand the subtle role that their care culture plays in aiding or preventing engagement outside and to identify those practices that are holding them back from engaging more actively with their gardens. They also clearly link any changes that may be required to the outside space to the current care culture in operation.
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