South Australian ageing care provider ECH has partnered with the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium (BCSH) to develop a therapeutic horticulture program.

ECH Chief Executive Dr David Panter says nature can provide a range of healing benefits to older people.

“This partnership is a testament to the benefits ECH believe there is in gardening and people getting outside together in the fresh air to enjoy being at one with nature,” Dr Panter said in a statement.

Dean Gaston

ECH Social & Therapeutic Horticulturalist Dean Gaston, who will lead the program, says spending time in a garden, whether it’s active or passive, can release ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the brain that cause happiness and a sense of wellbeing.

“Plants and gardens have a restorative effect, helping to boost your mood and relieve stress,” Mr Gaston said.

The Botanic Gardens, which has invested in the scheme, has welcomed ECH on board as a partner.

 “During this past year, we have seen it’s more important than ever to focus on our physical and mental health, and care for those more vulnerable members of our community,” BGSH chair Judy Potter said.

 “Engaging in nature and community gardening has proven physical and psychological benefits and we thank ECH for its support to develop and deliver this valuable work.”

The program is still in development so ECH wasn’t able to provide Community Care Review with any specific details, however it says it hopes to establish an ongoing relationship with the Botanic Gardens to find ways of working together.

ECH is one of the state’s only ageing care organisations to have a full time inhouse social and therapeutic horticulturalist on staff.

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