The Gardens of Agrace Hospice Care

The Gardens of Agrace Hospice Care

Part of Ep. 2102 The Eyes Have It

In Fitchburg, visit the very special gardens of Agrace Hospice Care, which provide beauty for the patients, their families and the staff.

Premiere date: May 08, 2013

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:

It's important at the end of our lives to be in a place that has meaning. For many of us, it's the beauty of nature, gardens, the outdoors, the scent of lilacs. It's very important to us. It calls to us. We are at Agrace Hospice Care in Fitchburg and I am with the landscape coordinator, Ruth Miller. And Ruth, I'm very impressed. Here you've all taken that concept, that importance, that almost spirituality of nature and really gone with it.

 

Ruth Miller:

We have. It's very important to us to offer quality of life at the end of life for each patient that comes through our doors and to also offer that to the families that are here with their loved one.

 

Shelley Ryan:

It's just as important at the end as at any other time.

 

Ruth Miller:

It is. It is. And we sometimes forget about that and it is here to help remember, bring back memories to the patients and to the families so that they can take a little break, come out here, breathe deeply, see the wonderful flowers we have around the facility, and then go back in refreshed to deal with what is happening here.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Well and you've told me that you've got private patios for each individual resident with their own gardens. But you've gone beyond that and created gardens all over the place. I mean we're sitting in front of one that I'm dying to go and play with.

 

Ruth Miller:

This is our alpine garden.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay, that's what it looks like.

 

Ruth Miller:

It is a cute little addition that we added. The kids like to come and stack rocks on the gardens.

 

Shelley Ryan:

I'm seeing little rock formations in there.

 

Ruth Miller:

Oh yeah.

 

Shelley Ryan:

And the columbines are in bloom. And you've got dwarf iris and this is.

 

Ruth Miller:

A lot of dwarf conifers also that are placed in the garden there.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Well, and other gardens that you've created around here. In fact, this is actually--

 

Ruth Miller:

Part of the kitchen garden.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay.

 

Ruth Miller:

We have kind of a beginning and an end to it. And in that kitchen garden we offer the kitchen some added fresh fruits and vegetables give to the patients and their families for meals that they offer here.

 

Shelley Ryan:

And you also mentioned a memory garden?

 

Ruth Miller:

Yes, we have a memory garden that is out the front. And it has a brick walkway that you can walk around. And in that we have created various areas. Most of it's in a shaded woodland area.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Oh, nice.

 

Ruth Miller:

So we have a lot of flowering azaleas, tulips in the spring, flowering crabs. And we also have some creeping phlox that are on the rock walls around the facility or over at the pond.

 

Shelley Ryan:

So kind of a restful place.

 

Ruth Miller:

Right, very restful. And we have benches and various other things over there plus bird feeders that encourage the birds to come and visit while you're out there.

 

Shelley Ryan:

And you've also got, I think I saw a gazebo as I came in.

 

Ruth Miller:

Yes, as you were heading around the facility, in what I refer to as our backyard, you have a gazebo and it overlooks a volunteer garden that was put in when the original Don and Marilyn Anderson building was erected. And it is handicapped accessible so if the patient is able to come out in a wheelchair, the volunteer staff can wheel them through the gardens.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Well and let's come back to the importance of the small little patios.

 

Ruth Miller:

I try create space for each room different from every other room. And there's many of them that come out at the end of their life in their beds, to be out here at the end. So it is a very special place and we try to accommodate various things that each patient wants.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Contrast that with you know the old days in the 19th century with the white sterile walls of a hospital or a sick room. I think this is great improvement.

 

Ruth Miller:

Oh, definitely.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Now you don't-- This isn't just you. You've got quite a group helping you.

 

Ruth Miller:

We do. Part of the hospice mission is to use volunteers. And the garden volunteers, I have about 30 on my list. And they come three, four days during the week. The community donated the building and, in turn, has also donated many of the plants that we do have at the facility.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Well one thing I'd like people to leave with is you know, that you don't have to be a resident of Agrace to take home some of these lessons learned. If you're dealing with a sick family member or friend or someone near the end of their life, bring in a bouquet of lilacs or you know bring in some cuttings from an ornamental crab apple. And what a difference that might make to the quality of the end of their life.

 

Ruth Miller:

Exactly.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Well, thank you very much for sharing this with us.

 

Ruth Miller:

Well, thank you for coming.

 

Shelley Ryan:

We appreciate it.

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