Horticultural Therapy Participants Ask, “Does it Bloom?” Smiling women frequently asked that question sitting around the table full of succulent desert plants at a recent session of Horticultural Therapy on the dementia-specific floor.
Kirk Hines, HTR, Horticultural Therapist, answers the question each time as if it were the first with a gentle, kind voice. “They do! The flowers are orange,” he said.
Participants reached out with pleasure when handed their very own containers of soil and worked hard to carefully pour it into their pots. Each chose the succulent they liked best and delighted in transplanting their small plant into a larger container.
By the end of the hour-long session, Hines tagged the pots with residents’ names to return to the greenhouse he painstakingly maintains at each of the three A.G. Rhodes homes. He hopes to build the resources to sustain the program that brings plant life to the lives of those living at A.G. Rhodes.
Horticultural Therapy provides a cognitive boost to both the mind and the spirit. Being a part of plants growing provides a purposeful activity for residents. The program adapts to the needs and abilities of the residents and brings nature indoors. “It is an age appropriate task and can be broken down into single steps,” said Hines.
Residents hear and repeat the botanical names of the plants. They awe at their creation and live in each moment. In the dementia unit, that moment is a pleasure that keeps repeating itself throughout the session. The accomplishment is complete within the hour. Later, the plants will adorn residents’ window sills. Hines manages this task over three locations, setting up his phone app to water and keep the plants alive for sessions to come.
On the monitor in the lobby of A.G. Rhodes, the multitude of activities provided to residents is broadcasted. Along with Horticultural Therapy, a riddle flashes on the screen. “What is it when often something is left out of the whole?” Answer: Wholesome, and that well describes the impact of Kirk Hines’ Horticultural Therapy program at A.G. Rhodes.
Story by Colleen Ijuin