Nearly two dozen Florida nursing homes will have access to a national indoor gardening program designed for residents, thanks to a $1 million Civil Monetary Penalty grant. 

The grant was awarded through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Region 4 office and the Agency for Health Care Administration, according to a LeadingAge Florida and Eldergrow announcement on Wednesday. The funding will be used to implement Eldergrow’s GARDEN project at 22 nursing homes across the state in an effort to help residents combat isolation and loneliness during the ongoing public health crisis.

Eldergrow’s horticulture program is designed to bring gardening indoors for residents to enjoy through mobile, therapeutic sensory gardens. The program also offers a team of educators to teach horticultural classes for residents. 

In addition, it focuses on six therapeutic wellness goals: socialization, cognitive stimulation, sensory stimulation, spatial awareness, motor skills and creative expression.

“Residents in our communities have been isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this innovative project will help deal with that isolation through a focus on their psychosocial and physical wellbeing,” Steve Bahmer, LeadingAge Florida president and CEO, said in a statement. 

He added the association is confident the project will serve as an “enormous benefit” to residents, their families and staff. 

“Not only does the GARDEN project make nature more accessible, therapeutic horticulture is a scientifically proven, non-pharmacological approach to wellness for residents living in a skilled nursing facility,” he said. 

We can’t wait to see what blooms from the project.