Gardening therapy blooms with provider-vendor pact

Share this content:
Indoor gardening gives residents a renewed sense of purpose: CEO.
Indoor gardening gives residents a renewed sense of purpose: CEO.

A Long Island nursing home is the latest in the field to partner with a Seattle startup based nearly 3,000 miles away to use gardening as a remedy for its residents.

Parker Jewish Institute of New Hyde Park, NY, announced in May that it has joined forces with Eldergrow to launch its new horticultural therapy offering. Dubbing it the “Eldergrow Garden Program,” they're aiming to bring the benefits of the outdoors into senior care facilities.

Eldergrow's services include mobile gardens for long-term care facilities, along with educators to teach seniors about gardening. They also include subscription-based products and programming.

The for-profit company now provides its services in more than 50 different communities in nine states, said Orla Concannon, the founder and CEO. Horticultural therapy, she claims, can help reduce depression while enhancing mood and sleep, improve coordination and self-esteem, and lower the risk factors for dementia. She believes her model is unique, in that it also measures and documents wellness goals tied to such therapy, including motor skills and sensory stimulation.

“It's more than just a garden club,” she told McKnight's. In one Florida memory care community, they've seen early progress in reducing agitation and exit-seeking behaviors.

“Residents spend an inordinate amount of time inside,” Concannon said. “These individuals were like you and me once, with busy, full-time jobs and families to raise. Now, they have less to do, and a garden actually gives them hope and purpose.”

Parker Jewish's mobile garden will be available year-round, with Eldergrow educators teaching courses to residents, and building relationships through ongoing “enrichment classes” tied to horticulture, culinary learning and gardening art.