Prison Garden Project Offers Boost for People with Dementia

A THERAPEUTIC gardening scheme for people with dementia was launched within the grounds of a prison in Dumfries today.

The innovative project at HMP Dumfries represents a joint venture between the Scottish Prison Service and Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership.

Denise Moffat is General Manager for Mental Health, Learning Disability, Psychology for the partnership, and she said: “There are currently over 3000 people in the region living with a diagnosis of dementia.
“Gardening is well-established as having potential therapeutic benefits for people with dementia, offering advantages to physical and mental health, but there is a challenge in setting up a scheme where they can have regular, supported access to a dedicated site.
“We are therefore delighted that our IDEAS team (Interventions in Dementia, Education, Assessment and Support) has worked with The Scottish Prison Service to establish a project making really good use of a fantastic five-acre garden site.”

The garden project’s main aims are to:


  • Give people with dementia an opportunity to take part in gardening or other related activities or relax and enjoy a beautiful peaceful outdoor space
  • Increase the knowledge and skills of activity co-ordinators and care workers about gardening activities to carry out with their clients both during and outwith the group
  • Increase prison staff’s awareness of dementia and enable them to contribute to supporting people in the community to live well


Twice a month, activity co-ordinators or other care workers will bring a client or clients to the garden so there will be a small group of people to enjoy the garden together.

There will be a variety of different garden-related activities on offer and each individual will have the opportunity to choose what they would like to do.

The activity co-ordinators or care workers will be responsible for the people they bring and be with them throughout the session.

There will be prison staff assisting with the activities. No prisoners will be present during the garden group activities. However, the prisoners may look after the plants that the group are growing, or be involved in preparing activities for the group.

Stuart Pomfret from The Scottish Prison Service said: “This is an exciting new project aimed at helping us support the elderly population locally by providing community access for those living with dementia.  
“It’s important to us to be good community neighbours and this project is part of a range of local community and charity work with which HMP Dumfries is involved. 
“The planning and preparation has been done.  We’re now looking forward to welcoming people with dementia today and seeing the benefits of our hard work. 
“Aside from what it offers the local community,  the project also provides opportunities for upskilling and preparing our staff to support and work with the elderly people in our care who may suffer from dementia now or in the future, given our own ever increasing elderly population.”

Denise Moffat has hailed the launch of the scheme at the prison in Terregles Street, Dumfries.

She said: “Being outdoors offers lots of potential benefits to physical and mental health, and we hope that participants will really enjoy being part of this exciting garden group.”




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