The staff at Idylwood Care Center is always looking for new ways to support the well-being of their residents. Recently, Dietary and Occupational Therapy staff and interns came together to design and launch the Garden to Table program. This program guides residents in the gardening of seasonal vegetables and herbs, provides education on plants, promotes physical activity, encourages healthful nutrition and supports emotional and mental well-being.
The daily schedule for the program begins with staff sharing with residents a variety of information on nutrition, food basics and overall health and well-being strategies. Next they demonstrate how-to gardening fundamentals such as weeding, watering, pruning and harvesting. In addition to working in the garden, residents are also encouraged to walk through the garden and get moderate sun exposure during sitting breaks. This give them an opportunity to enjoy the garden, while increasing their Vitamin D levels through sun exposure, which helps with calcium absorption to improve bone density and maintain muscle and nerve function.
Residents are also involved from the beginning in the preparation of the garden by helping to choose what types of vegetables to plant such as peppers, basil and tomatoes. When it is time to harvest the vegetables and herbs, residents are able to help choose a favorite recipe to use them in, so they can enjoy first-hand the delicious benefit of what they have grown.
The Garden to Table program has been successful in helping residents to increase their group participation and peer interaction; improve their overall well-being and fitness by increasing strength and dexterity; increase their moderate sun exposure time and Vitamin D levels; and improve their weight management and lab levels.
The facility plans to expand their Garden to Table program by having Dietary and Occupational Therapy interns and staff collaborate with residents to create new recipes for what they have grown and also donate a part of their garden produce to local community outreach programs. By sharing their garden bounty with the community, the hopes are that the residents will feel a sense of accomplishment and empowerment that they are making a difference in other people’s lives. With all of these amazing benefits, the Garden to Table program is having an overall positive effect on the mind, body and spirit of the residents at Idylwood Care Center.
Contributed by: Sandy Narasimhan MS,RD,CSG
and Rashmi Rajadhyax PD,OTR/L