integratedliving Australia's Port Stephens Sensory Garden opens in Raymond Terrace

IN JUST 10 months, a block of land in a busy Raymond Terrace street has blossomed from an empty eyesore to a joy-filled wonder.

A community sensory garden, an initiative of integratedliving Australia, officially opened in Port Stephens Street on Friday.

The aim of the garden, understood to be the first in the region not attached to an aged care home, is to improve quality of life for those living with dementia.

“Gardens and outdoor environments are increasingly being re-introduced as an important support tool in the care, behaviour management and contributor to the quality of life of people living with dementia,” said integratedliving Australia chief executive, Catherine Daley.

“Sensory gardens like this one provide those living with dementia with therapeutic activities that maximise retained cognitive and physical abilities and lessen the confusion and agitation often associated with the condition.

“This is the first garden of its type in the wider Hunter region and it will be open not only to our consumers at the activity centre but also to range of community groups and care facilities that assist the aged or people living with dementia.”

The $100,000 sensory garden can be found next to integratedliving’s activity centre in Raymond Terrace.

It features a seven-metre-wide artwork mural, fish pond, large deck for dining and board games, shed, raised garden bed, potting area, greenhouse and shaded grassed areas.

The garden is officially named “Bill’s Backyard” in remembrance of former integratedliving volunteer William “Bill” Pringle.

“Bill worked with us for years in our social support program, especially working with our Aboriginal consumers,” Ms Daley said.

“He was very generous with his time and always helped people in need, so it seemed fitting to honour him this way.”

Ms Daley was joined by integratedliving staff, Paterson MP Bob Badlwin and Worimi elders at the ceremony opening on Friday.