This quote from Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of The Mental Health Foundation, certainly aligns with what our clients and live-in carers have experienced in the past year. Whether through getting out into their gardens more, visiting parks or exploring local landscapes, the people we support and our live-in carers have drawn inspiration and strength from being able to connect with nature through the difficult days of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Why is connecting with nature so important?
We view connecting with nature as being a bit like going back to basics. Throughout history, human beings have lived and worked alongside the natural world, from foraging for food and living in wild environments, to the modern-day pursuits of exercise programmes, mass-production farming and stylised gardening. Animals, birds, insects, plants and the multitude of different natural landscapes, from forests to coastlines, have helped human beings to find purpose, pleasure and peace, three elements of life that many of us have had to rediscover during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With so many of our clients’ usual activities restricted, escaping into the natural world has helped to fill their days, something that’s been vitally important for many of the people we support who initially felt bereft when their regular activities came to an abrupt holt. Our live-in carers have supported and encouraged those connections with nature because we know that there is a huge amount of enjoyment to be found through activities that connect us to the natural world. We are also mindful that accessing and enjoying nature helps to fuel wellbeing practices like ‘Taking notice’ and ‘Keeping active’ too.
How can our live-in care help you to connect with nature?
We believe that having an illness or disability shouldn’t prevent anyone from having the chance to connect with and enjoy nature. Our live-in carers are adept at being innovative, and even if someone is significantly unwell or immobile we will do our utmost to help that person to enjoy nature if that is something they want to do.
For some people we support nature needs to come to them, so it may be that with their live-in carer they enjoy looking at and caring for houseplants. For other people, their bed or favourite chair needs to have a view of their garden or a green-space that their home overlooks.
For our clients with gardens, our live-in carers provide support (as directed by the client) to help that person to get out into their garden, eat, drink, exercise or socialise with family and friends outside (as per COVID regulations), or participate in gardening. Some clients may want to do work on their gardens beyond what they can achieve with their live-in carer, but their live-in carer can help them to find a gardener or landscaper to make their garden more accessible for their wheelchair or more dementia friendly.
Our live-in carers can also support trips to local parks, wildlife sanctuaries, nature reserves and other green spaces. For some of the people we support, it has only been through having a live-in carer that they’ve been able to undertake such trips out.
Our top tip for enjoying nature more this Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond
We love this Nature Journal from the Mental Health Foundation. Some of our clients enjoy journaling as a hobby, either alone or with support from their live-in carer, and this free-to-download journal has the additional benefit of encouraging connections with nature and supporting mental health. It’s really accessible, and recognises that for some people connecting with nature will mean a part of the natural world coming into their home instead of them going out. It even has a section to create artwork, which in itself is a hobby that can improve wellbeing, promote expression and be collaborative between a person and their live-in carer.
Find out more about how ENA Care Group could support you or your family by calling 0800 4334 413 or emailing .