Innovative collaborations have created the aquaponics garden at the Basin View Masonic Village. It is being developed as an eco-friendly way to build communion within the village, provide meaningful occupations through growing nutritious food, and increase community engagement of the village. Stakeholders include village staff and residents, local schools and businesses, aquaponics experts and academics. Considering the potential of community gardens to reconnect people with nature, promote integration with the community and provide volunteer and educational opportunities (Quayle, 2007), final occupational and social outcomes are highly anticipated.
The aim of this ongoing field study is to evaluate over time from multi-disciplinary perspectives, the garden's impact on: the village culture; occupational participation of self-care residents, residents with dementia, staff and carers; and the local community's involvement.
Investigators are using qualitative research methods (interviews, focus groups, and storytelling), observation of selected stakeholders and digital technology to record the garden story and analyse processes and outcomes along many dimensions. The University of Wollongong has granted ethics approval.
Resident interest and participation, staff enthusiasm and engagement, healthy plants and fish, in-kind support from local businesses and contributions from volunteer school children have already contributed to significant culture change within the village.
Valuable general insights from various perspectives about sustainable community-based, occupation-focused programs and specific practice strategies for engaging people with dementia in occupations will be gained.