A distant view of greenery from common areas of aged care homes is associated with lower stress and higher quality of life among residents, a Swinburne University of Technology study has found.
The study published in the Health Environments Research & Design Journal examined how views of greenery from different areas in an aged care home impacted and changed the psychological wellbeing of new aged care residents.
It involved collecting information from 52 aged care residents at 13 facilities in metropolitan Melbourne at the time of admission and eight weeks later.
Lead researcher Professor Takemi Sugiyama said the researchers expected to find that views of green spaces in an on-site garden or courtyard would be associated with better psychological outcomes for residents. However this was not the case.
“What we found was that distant views of greenery from common areas such as lounge rooms and dining areas were associated with better changes in stress levels and quality of life measures for those who are admitted to aged care facilities,” Professor Sugiyama told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“For internal green spaces, such as a garden and courtyard, we didn’t find the association of psychological impacts we expected to find. And we thought it might be because most facilities may have average quality gardens or courtyards,” said Professor Sugiyama, Healthy Cities Research Group Leader at Swinburne University of Technology.
Professor Sugiyama speculated this was due to a lack of maintenance of or access to on-site courtyards and gardens.
“We need to look at aged care facilities that are diverse in the way internal gardens and courtyards are designed and managed,” he said.
The study also looked at the impact of greenery from a resident’s bedroom, but it found no association to wellbeing outcomes, Professor Sugiyama said.
This may be due to the size of residents’ bedroom windows, which were often small, he said.
“Because of window size, green areas may not have a considerable impact on psychological wellbeing.”
Professor Sugiyama said aged care providers could prevent residents’ psychological wellbeing from worsening by improving the view of green spaces from common areas.
“The view from common areas can help residents to improve their stress levels and quality of life measures overtime,” he said.
Providers can take advantage of green spaces by ensuring blinds and curtains in common areas are not blocking residents’ views, Professor Sugiyama.
He also suggested providers take the view of green spaces into consideration when renovating and designing aged care homes.