Innovative care environments are created for older adults with dementia to enhance patient-centered care. Studies have shown that green care farms, which provide 24-hour nursing care, are an excellent alternative to traditional nursing homes. These farms allow patients to engage in more physical activities and social interactions than residents in traditional nursing home settings, allowing them to have better quality of life and improved health outcomes.
A recent study published in The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine examined the ways in which green care farms enhanced dementia patients’ overall wellbeing. These innovative care settings are part of a larger worldwide initiative toward small-scale, homelike care settings that focus on the provision of patient-centered care.
This radical new design has shown to be imperative to solving the continuous problem in nursing homes against apathy and associated negative outcomes, such as “boredom, loneliness, isolation, and social exclusion.” Traditional nursing home settings promote residents to spend the most part of their days engaging in little to no activity while staying in a sitting or lying position. These residents commonly have no social interaction and rarely participate in meaningful activities.
Green care farms are a new type of small-scale living facility that use a combination of agricultural and care activities. Norway, France, and the Netherlands are the leading countries that have widely adopted green care farms as a way of giving care for different patient groups. Each country has an estimated 1000 green care farms providing day care. Nursing staff in this care setting must have explicit competencies to care for patients in these new small-scale facilities due to the integrated tasks they have. The reasoning of green care farms is that people need to have access to engage in daily activities as much as possible. Moreover, the physical setting allows many opportunities to include these activities into normal every day care processes and offers patients to move with more freedom than in traditional nursing home facilities. The green care farms involve the “presence of animals, plants, and other natural aspects.” Residents are given the opportunity to engage in outdoor, work-related, domestic, and other kinds of activities implemented into normal daily living. A number of these green care farms are actual farms that produce agriculture, whereas other green care farms have care as the primary source of income. According to the article, “green care farms that provide 24-hour nursing care are expected to have benefits regarding the way residents spend their days when compared with regular nursing homes, which can influence well-being.”
The study investigated whether residents of green care farms participated in more physical activities and social engagement than residents who lived in other nursing homes. Researchers compared green care farms with traditional nursing home facilities and with regular small-scale living facilities. The study found that residents of green care farms spend more time engaging in activities than residents of traditional nursing homes. Moreover, the activities green care farm residents participated in encouraged greater social interaction. Compared with patients of regular small-scale living facilities, those of green care farms spent more time in their days doing physical activities.