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BC SUPPORT Unit Webinar

Improving health outcomes for persons in long-term care facilities in northern British Columbia

Presenter: Rebecca Ferris

Development of an intervention study aimed to improve quality of life by enhancing accessibility to the natural environment and horticulture therapy.

In long-term care facilities (LTCF), loneliness is a growing problem that has reached epidemic proportions.  Although residents in LTCFs may be surrounded by many people, they can feel lonelier than they have ever felt in their life.  Transitions can be a particularly difficult experience as people often lose connections from their community and can find it difficult to build new relationships with people who may not share the same interests or level of cognitive wellbeing. To address the need to better support LTCF residents to remain socially connected and to actively engaged in life, we brought together a team involving residents at Gateway Lodge, a LTCF and Assisted Living Facility in Prince George, leaders from the Northern Health Authority, and researchers from UNBC to co-develop a response. Our resident partners identified gardening and horticulture activities as a very meaningful activity that they valued as an important part of quality of life yet was not available in an accessible way to them in the LTCF. Therefore, the goal of our activities was to collaborate with residents, care staff, and management of the facility to identify priorities and co-design further steps to enhance opportunities for gardening and horticulture. Our overarching goal is to increase opportunities for meaningful engagement and to reduce incidence of social isolation and loneliness in the LTCF.

Our presentation will describe our process to co-develop a project to incorporate gardening activities into daily life in the LTCF. We will highlight the importance of taking a person-centered approach to engaging residents to identify the challenge and be part of the solution to address feelings of loneliness. We will share the important learnings during our collaborative research design process and discuss our current activities focused on hydroponic and raised bed gardening and horticulture education as we are currently piloting our co-designed program to support residents to grow and consume their own vegetables and herbs in the LTCF.

Rebecca Ferris, BA : Rebecca Ferris, is a graduate student in the Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Program at the University of Northern British Columbia and is the lead research assistant on this project.  She works in close collaboration with Dr. Freeman on this project.