Sensory garden delights

19-Jul-2013 12:30 PM

Villa Maria’s Carinya Respite Service in Lysterfield now has a beautiful dementia-specific sensory garden thanks to generous support from the community.

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The large, landscaped garden – which cost around $80,000 – includes fantastic walkways, raised garden beds, a rotunda, pond, water feature and mini windmill, all designed to cater for the needs of people living with dementia.

Sensory gardens are known to stimulate the five senses and improve people’s emotional and physical wellbeing, particularly for those with dementia who may experience anxiety and stress.  Research shows that physical as well as visual access to nature reduces stress, assists blood pressure levels, helps to maintain comfortable sleeping patterns, and aids in the absorption of vitamin D.

Carinya Respite Service Team Leader Melanie Allsop said staff and clients were “very excited” about the garden’s completion.

“It has benefits by being aesthetically pleasing from inside the building and provides staff with a whole new space to enhance the wellbeing of clients. The gardens will encourage more people to spend time outdoors and give the opportunity for clients to take part in gardening, which will see them rewarded with a sense of ownership and teamwork.  We look forward to when the plants are all in bloom and we see the full effect of the garden – we cannot wait for spring!”

Run by not-for-profit aged and disability services provider Villa Maria, Carinya is a dementia-specific, planned recreational and overnight respite service offering people with dementia living in the Eastern region a chance to maintain their independence and quality of life. It’s also an important service for their carers, who gain much-needed respite from what can sometimes be a stressful role.

Melanie said the service had recently expanded its focus to become a ‘one-stop-shop’ for carers in the Eastern region, offering respite during the day or overnight at Carinya, and within their own homes.   “We have also extended our ‘out and about’ program to include activities for both people living with dementia and their carers.  A recent visit to the zoo, for example, gave couples the opportunity to socialise with people in similar situations in a fun and relaxing environment.”

Villa Maria would like to sincerely thank all those in the community whose donations have made the sensory garden a reality, including a group of Carinya staff, volunteers, carers and guests who have held monthly sausage sizzles at Bunnings Warehouse in Scoresby since April 2011 to raise funds. 

To learn more about Villa Maria’s wide range of Community Services call 1300 650 615 or visit

Interviews and photograph opportunities are available upon request.

Media enquiries: call Cassie Zlonzak on (03) 9855 7729 or 0406 382 560.


About Villa Maria     

Villa Maria is a values–based, not-for-profit organisation providing quality services and life enhancing opportunities for older people, children and adults with a disability, their families and carers.

Established in 1907 as the Catholic Braille Writers Association, Villa Maria has grown to become one of Victoria’s largest not-for-profit providers of disability, education and senior services with more than 60 programs supporting 5,000 people across the state and southern New South Wales.

Every day of the year, 1,100 staff and 300 volunteers respond to the unique needs of the people and families we support with openness, innovation, creativity and flexibility.


Media contact

Cassie Zlonzak
Communications Adviser

Telephone: 03 9837 6629

Fax: 03 9837 6668

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About us

Villa Maria is a not-for-profit, values-based organisation providing quality services and life enhancing opportunities for older people and children and adults with a disability, their families and carers.

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