Aims: To explore the activities of daily living and psychological well-being of older people living in nursing homes and also to examine the effectiveness of a gardening programme in enhancing socilaisation and life satisfaction, reducing loneliness and promoting activities of daily living for older people living in nursing homes.
Background: Life in nursing homes can mean very limited physical and social activity, leading to further decline in function for many older people.
Design: This was a quasi-experimental pre and posttest control group design.
Methods: Older people from nursing homes were invited to join the eight week indoor gardening programme (experimental group), while older people in other nursing homes were treated as the control group; they received regular care without the eight week indoor gardening programme. There were 26 older people (25 female and one male; mean age 85 years) in the experimental group and 27 (20 female and seven male; mean age 82 years) in the control group. Demographic data including age, gender, educational level and financial situation were collected, in addition to information regarding life satisfaction, loneliness, physical activity and social network situation, before and after the eight week indoor gardening programme for both the experimental and control groups. Also, details of experimental group subjects' experience of the indoor gardening programme were elicited using open-ended questions.
Results: There were significant improvements in life satisfaction and social network and a significant decrease in perception of loneliness for older people in the experimental group after the eight week indoor gardening programme, while the activities of daily living were unchanged for both groups after the programme.
Relevance to clinical practice: Given the positive effects of gardening activities, it is suggested that they be promoted more widely among nursing home residents.