The purpose-built residential care home opened in October 2004 as a joint project by Radius Housing and PCI, through the Council for Social Witness, which has overall management responsibility for the home. Providing single rooms for 45 older people, Sunnyside caters for those who are frail or elderly, but also those who have early stage dementia.
Anna McCaffrey, Home Manager said, “Over the past number of years I have seen an increase in the number of residents presenting with early stage dementia. So for some time we have considered the development of a sensory/dementia garden within the home grounds, where the residents can enjoy a safe and secure area.”
Work on the development and design of the garden began back in January 2017, with all of the groundwork and planting completed in March this year. The finished garden contains a variety of features, including meandering pathways, fragrant and colourful plants that provide sensory stimulation, and raised beds which mean that the residents can get involved in the gardening too.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Noble McNeely, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, was invited to participate in the opening of the sensory garden.
Dr. McNeely said, “It is a special accolade for me to be participating in the opening of the sensory garden at Sunnyside House, which will provide a safe and pleasing facility where the residents can rest and relax.
“I can see the potential for residents to recall memories of their past and their enjoyment of gardens. It may encourage some to sow seeds and exercise their time attending to plants. Sunnyside House enjoys a Christian ethos and it is special for me to be leading worship on this significant day and to be given the privilege of cutting the ribbon to demonstrate the official opening of the sensory garden.”
Kim Smyth, Deputy Manager of the home, expressed particular thanks to all those who made the creation of the sensory garden possible.
“I would like to highlight my gratitude to Wilson Shaw and his team at Beechill Landscapes at Carryduff for their dedication and hard work in making this very special garden possible. I must also mention and give thanks to the “friends of Sunnyside” and the Local support Committee who carried out a range of fundraising events, such as musical evenings.
“We have had so much support for our garden, with donations of money, furniture and ornamental features freely given to help make the sensory garden as beautiful as it is. The garden is such a welcoming place, and will be a blessing to our residents as it promotes well-being of mind and body.”
The opening of the sensory garden is the second significant event for Sunnyside House recently. Earlier this week, the home was runner-up in the Northern Ireland Amenity Council’s 2017 Best Kept Health and Social Care Facility Awards for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust region.
These two special events are linked as Anna McCaffrey mentioned, “A big thanks to Margaret Liggott, Carolyn Blair, Maureen Richmond and Michael Gillespie for their green fingers and knowledge of gardening which has helped us to obtain runner-up in this year’s South Eastern area ‘Best Kept Health and Social Care Awards’.”
Like all PCI homes, Sunnyside House welcomes residents from all denominations and seeks to provide care in a specifically Christian ethos and environment. Residents can attend regular worship services and fellowship times held within the home and a conscious effort is made to ensure residents are offered spiritual support and encouragement when requested.