A new acronym crossed my desk the other day IMTA which stands for Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture which provides by-products, including waste from one aquatic species as input for another. This seems to include aquaponics in there, but the in general terms you use the waste from one aquatic species to grow another aquatic species. It would be more suited to fish providing nutrient for algae production but I am more than happy for our work to be included in the description.
Dr. Thierry Chopin from the Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network, University of New Brunswick paid a visit to the integrated garden at Basin View Retirement Village we built last year and had some very important and positive comments about the garden and its benefits to people in aged care and dementia patients. Here are a few points.
After less than a year of existence, Denise and her team have noted the following responses and effects on their patients: RFBI Basin View Masonic Village
- Individual responses are different but always positive; no negative response has been recorded.
- The more significant the dementia the more basic the response is, but patients always respond.
- This activity is, in fact, crucial for their mental and physical health.
- It provides fresh air and exercise. The patients are away from some of the indoor “smells” and “busy inside noises”.
- It provides a calming environment and reduces agitation. The comments most often made are “I feel the wind on my face”, “it’s calming”, “it’s cool and restful”. One lady, who never verbally communicated in the past, actually said “very calming” to the great astonishment of the team.
- Most people in care are vitamin D deficient and this vitamin cannot be synthesised in in-door environments. Being outside will increase vitamin D intake and synthesis, with positive effects on bone health, reduced incidence of some cancers, reduced incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS), reduced incidence of depression, improved cognitive performances in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and reduced risk of cardio-vascular events.
- With the assistance from relatives, friends and staff the existence of the garden increases the ability for patients with dementia to go outside and to have more freedom and independence (unrestricted walk around).
- The garden is a space which facilitates activities and extends the range of activities.
- Patients enjoy sitting, watching animals (kangaroos are never very far in Australia!), and attracting and feeding birds. Many have spent their lives relating to nature.
- The place provides a stimulus for conversation and is busy enough to provide watching activities: there is a nearby car park, a road, activities at other resident houses, and deliveries.
- Something to do and meaningful and tailored activities are good therapy programmes to manage neuropsychiatric behaviours in persons with dementia and to reduce care-giver burden.
- The design of the DTIMTA system is also very important. Patients walk along the different components of the system. There are no visual barriers and they are on a “voyage”: there is something to stop, look at or do with every step on a continuous trip.
- Finally, there are good and healthy food products for the kitchen that the patients are proud to have cultivated, harvested and delivered.
The rest of the publication can be found here. It has some very enlightening points about the benefits the gardens provide to residents.