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Many of us who are fortunate to have a garden are giving it much more attention since the Coronavirus restrictions started. The gardens in our specialist care homes are no exception. Not only are the gardens benefiting from extra TLC, so are our service users.

All of our homes have large gardens and/or outdoor space that is used for a variety of activities, depending on the needs and preferences of service users.

The Mews – home for adults with acquired brain injury

One of our service users had taken ownership of some raised flowerbeds, which had been neglected, and as we’re all confined to the home and garden, he had some helpers. He trusted Ebony and Paige (two of our Admissions & Referrals Co-ordinators) along with another service user to get involved. They revamped the whole patch: dug, weeded, replanted some of the existing plants and added new ones. They planted herbs and vegetables as well as sowing some seeds.

Everyone enjoyed it, and one of the guys who suffered low mood said he had a really great day. Research, as well as anecdotal evidence, has shown that gardening activity has many well-being benefits – it’s mindful and calming, reducing stress and the symptoms of anxiety. It’s a meaningful activity, providing focus and hope – seeing plants grow and develop gives us something to look forward to in these uncertain times. In addition, neurological injury can impact on the brain’s ability to control physical movements, so weeding and planting seeds, for example, can help to improve fine motor skills.

The large garden at The Mews was perfect for our Easter treasure hunt and is also used for a wide range of games and activities.

The Coach House – home for adults with acquired brain injury

Adjacent to The Mews, service users at The Coach House have access to all of the gardens. They also have their own outside space with patios next to some of the bedrooms and a lovely sunny terrace at the front of the home. The service users have been enjoying the sunshine – having lunch outside, playing giant noughts and crosses, listening to the birds and enjoying nature.

144 Boughton Green Road  – long-term home for men with acquired brain injury

The large rear garden has a big lawn, which is great for football, badminton, croquet and outdoor darts. Families have been very supportive and donated some outdoor games, including giant Snakes & Ladders and Jenga. The patio is perfect for sitting in the sun and chilling out – just being outside has benefits of engaging all the senses, Vitamin D absorption, improving sleep and general well-being. We also have some extra gazebos, so there is plenty of shade and the guys have been eating alfresco when the weather’s been good. We had a barbecue one Friday and everyone really enjoyed themselves. One of the service users was the DJ for the day, and has now nominated himself as the home’s DJ!

There’s also been plenty of gardening activity – we’ve started a vegetable and herb garden, sowing seeds, and potting up plants. We’re hoping to grow potatoes, carrots, sweetcorn, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and chillies.

23 Duston Road – home for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs

The back garden at Duston Road has a summerhouse, trampoline, tables and chairs, so can be enjoyed for a variety of activities. There was great joy recently when Martin the Music Man came to visit. He usually comes to the home every week, but had stopped coming because of social distancing rules. However, an improvement in the weather meant that he could play his guitar and sing, while maintaining a social distance. The guys and girls were really pleased to see him and he spread some musical cheer to everyone at the home.

2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove – homes for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs

The garden and patio provide some lovely outside space for games and other activities. However, the service users’ favourite thing at the moment is our new shop! They are all missing their trips to the local shops and cafes so we’ve converted the summerhouse. Tables and chairs are set up in the garden and they are all loving it.

We are trying to provide a sense of normality and routine, as well as some fun, during these difficult times. Outdoor space (especially when the weather is good) gives us additional opportunities to do this. A whole range of activities contribute to well-being and rehabilitation in a number of ways from enhancing mood to improving physical skills.


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The Coach House is our newest specialist residential care home and our third dedicated to adults with acquired brain injury. It is adjacent to The Richardson Mews and under a joint CQC Registration. It is a self-contained home and run by Registered Homes Manager, Jo Wilkins.

We launched The Coach House on 24th January 2019 and the CQC registration process was completed last summer. The first service users arrived in August and after just six months, we’re pleased to report that one of them was able to be discharged earlier this month.

Goal setting and care plan

Andrew* had sustained an hypoxic brain injury following a cardiac arrest 14 months prior to his arrival at Richardson Care, and came to us from a hospital neurological rehab setting. Members of our multi-disciplinary team (MDT) assessed Andrew and prepared a care plan for him. Goals were set for Andrew at the point of admission, with the aim of enabling him to move to a location closer to his family.

Andrew’s goals included:

  • Increasing his independence with personal care
  • Maximising his engagement in community access
  • Reducing his frustration in relation to his limitations
  • Reducing his wandering at night
  • Participation in elements of meal preparation

A small consistent care team supported Andrew on a daily basis, reinforcing the therapies implemented by the MDT. He built a good rapport with some of the members of the team, which was instrumental in his support and rehabilitation.

Gains achieved

Andrew made good gains in personal care and in mobility. He has been receptive to daily walking practice and he has been supported to access the community every day, which he does using a wheelchair due to stability and fatigue issues. He can also transfer more independently. Although The Coach House is located in private grounds, it has a wide range of shops, cafes, etc. in the immediate vicinity. Richardson Care has a good relationship with local businesses, which enhances the experience of service users when accessing the local community.

Although Andrew still presents with challenging behaviour, he has been able to reduce his frustrations and manage his behaviour more effectively. He engaged well with his care team, who found that distraction and diversion techniques were effective in reducing Andrew’s agitation due to his cognitive deficits.

Regarding elements of meal preparation, Andrew now actively participates in selecting menu choices every day with the support of staff. He will also initiate helping himself to a drink left on the table beside him without prompts from staff. These make important contributions to his overall well-being.

Positive outcome

Within six months, Andrew had made sufficient gains in all of his goals to enable him to be discharged to a residential setting closer to his family. It is hoped that with continued close supervision and increased family contact, he will be able to continue his rehabilitation from his brain injury.

*We have changed the name of the service user to protect his identity.


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The Richardson Partnership for Care, The Richardson Mews, Kingsland Gardens, Northampton NN2 7PW

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