The healing power of plants and pets entices our residents to spend quiet moments in the rooftop greenhouse at Clove Lakes.
Residents find comfort through gardening within the gleaming glass structure with the sun shining in the windows.
For other residents, the soothing sounds of cockatiels, parakeets and parrots in the aviary triggers pleasant memories of walking through the park, close to home.
Nearby the herb garden, many residents find their connections back to life with the smells and textures of plants. Blind residents are taught how to make flower arrangements and Alzheimer's patients make sensory associations after touching the soil and plants.
In the Pet Therapy Programs, Charlie Brown, a friendly beagle and Pork Chop, a labrador pad down halls into welcoming resident's rooms. Both dogs visit units and spend time with small groups of patients. Benefits include stress reduction, companionship and confidence brought about by a dog's unconditional love and affection.
The premise on which the programs are based is simple: some residents heal significantly faster and better as they are treated to Horticulture and/or Pet Therapy.
Because of close resident contact, the dogs are carefully screened for health and personality. Size and breed aren't important, but the animals need to be responsive to residents, staff and family members.
Both horticulture and pet therapies improve the social, educational and psychological well-being of patients. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, (January 28, 1993), these therapies are based on a solid ground of scientific research and popular support. More than one-third of the population uses some form of alternative therapy to relieve pain and improve health.
The 300+ residents and family members who visit the greenhouse each week know the area has a calming and revitalizing effect. The 50 X 50 foot glass structure, that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter, has been a sanctuary of delight comfort and happiness, since it was first designed 25 years ago. The nature-like setting helps offset depression that often accompanies illness.
Working with plants and animals gives people a connection to life itself.