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NParks opens two new therapeutic gardens in parks

19 Sep 2017

The National Parks Board (NParks) today opened two new therapeutic gardens in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Tiong Bahru Park.

NParks worked with the community to develop these therapeutic gardens which are designed to provide respite and improve the mental well-being of all visitors, including seniors. Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong, who was the guest-of-honour, officiated the opening of the two new therapeutic gardens at an event in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park this morning, together with Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development, and Second Minister for National Development.

Network of therapeutic gardens across Singapore

With Singapore’s ageing population, the number of dementia-at-risk seniors and persons with dementia is expected to increase. NParks’ therapeutic gardens are not only designed with elderly-friendly features, but also to alleviate the onset of dementia through therapeutic horticulture.

Woh Hup (Private) Limited, one of Singapore’s largest private construction group, donated $500,000 through the Garden City Fund for the development of the Therapeutic Garden @ Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and its programmes. NParks will continue to partner the community to develop a network of therapeutic gardens in parks across Singapore, including an upcoming garden in Choa Chu Kang Park which will be completed in 2018. This network of therapeutic gardens forms one of the key initiatives under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing report announced by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing in 2015.

NParks has developed customised therapeutic horticulture programmes and will work with eldercare centres and senior activity centres to conduct these programmes in the therapeutic gardens. The programmes are designed to increase social interaction among participants and to enable them to enjoy the benefits of interest in, and interaction with, nature. The activities such as nature art and gardening related activities, aim to increase the overall sense of well-being in the participants to promote healing and recovery.

Research on therapeutic horticulture

Research projects have been conducted by NParks to quantify the benefits of greenery on Singaporeans, and to enhance the design of green spaces and therapeutic horticulture programmes.

A joint research with National University Health System (NUHS) titled Effects Of Therapeutic Horticulture On Asian Elderly’s Mental Health was completed in end 2016. Findings showed that therapeutic horticulture brings about improvement in the psychological well-being of seniors. The results demonstrated that participants in the active therapeutic horticulture group report higher life satisfaction and feel more socially connected when compared to those in the control group. In particular, participants in the active therapeutic horticulture group have a lower risk of experiencing depression and a variety of inflammation-associated diseases and are likely to report higher scores in psychological well-being and positive relationships.

NParks and NUHS embarked on a new study Effects Of Therapeutic Horticulture On Elderly At Risk Of Cognitive Decline this year. It will provide important data on the efficacy of therapeutic horticulture in the prevention of dementia. More details about the research projects can be found in Factsheet A.

Capability building

The new therapeutic gardens in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Tiong Bahru Park were established based on best practices and evidence-based design principles, drawing upon research in environmental psychology. Therapeutic Garden @ HortPark, Singapore’s first therapeutic garden in a public park which opened in May 2016, served as a reference for these new gardens. More details of the design of the new therapeutic gardens can be found in Factsheets B and Factsheet C.

Since the launch of the Therapeutic Garden @ HortPark, there has been growing interest in developing these gardens. NParks has produced a set of design guidelines on the key characteristics of therapeutic gardens to serve as a useful resource for other organisations to incorporate such therapeutic environments in their facilities. Interested organisations can download the guidelines at https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/therapeutic-gardens.

In addition, NParks’ Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE) will start offering a Certificate in Therapeutic Horticulture in December 2017. The 12.5 days programme, conducted over a period of three months, is open to all who are interested to pick up skills in therapeutic horticulture, such as healthcare and social care practitioners, as well as landscape designers, managers and horticulturists. It will help to train and equip professionals to create and implement therapeutic horticulture activities for seniors and other groups of clients with special needs. Conducted by local and international experts, the programme will cover three domains: horticulture, human science and therapeutic horticulture. CUGE will also continue to organise workshops to share best practices in therapeutic horticulture.

For more information on NParks’ therapeutic gardens, please visit https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/therapeutic-gardens.

Factsheet A - Updates on research on health benefits of interaction with greenery

Factsheet B - Design of Therapeutic Garden @ Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

Factsheet C - Design of Therapeutic Garden @ Tiong Bahru Park

Last updated on 19 September 2017

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