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The Healing Garden Project

The Healing Garden project began in 2004 with an invite to the South Dakota State University Horticulture Department Senior class to create a conceptual design of a therapeutic garden environment for the Dementia Residents of the Sanford Care Center Vermillion.

The Healing Garden fully integrates reminiscence, therapeutic activities, and memory enhancement in the design. The Healing Garden is the first of it’s kind in the region designed specifically for the Dementia population while also incorporating intergenerational community involvement in one area.

We hope you take some time to enjoy the garden and identify the subtle and not—so—subtle design elements which spark conversation and socialization.

The Healing Garden is open from 7AM—7PM Spring - Fall. Check with Sanford personnel after 7PM.

The Healing Garden is shared by the residents who reside in our Care Center, please refrain from assisting those not in your party upon re-entry to the facility from the visitor garden entrance/exit.

Healing Garden Design Elements
The Main Patio creates an environment for residents, patients, visitors, and staff to socialize, and enjoy the outdoors all year long through the variety and colorful foliage, vegetation, and architectural elements embedded into the Healing Garden.

The Pathway design allows for a continuous loop for those who may wander due to disease or anxiety. The pathway is constructed of two colors to separate social areas from private areas. This element is incorporated to guide those with Dementia to stay on the circular path inhibiting the ability to have a stopping point in their journey.

The Raised Planters were added into the design to encourage participation in the planting by the residents regardless of whether they are able to stand or in a wheelchair. The height and depth is specific to these needs. The planters can be used by our physical and occupational therapy programs to work on fine and gross motor skills, strength training, and stamina.

The Vintage Truck, Windmill, Mail Box, and Water Pump Fountain elements were included to facilitate reminiscence, memory enhancement and socialization for all who enjoy the garden.

Therapeutic Elements
Rehabilitation services including speech, occupational and physical therapy will be able to utilize the Healing Garden as a tool to facilitate their patients' therapeutic goals. Therapy services may address a variety of rehabilitative issues such as mobility, balance, endurance, and strength in an outdoor environment by tending to the flowers, walking, or by playing a game of horseshoes.

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