Garden Centres are a popular choice of destination for residents who are going on Oomph! trips, but these aren’t always perceived as the most exciting selection. Oomph!’s Lead Conductor in the North, John Daley, discusses why he feels that we should cut these locations a little bit more slack…
Since starting with Oomph!, I’ve heard on numerous occasions when I’ve asked, “Where are we going today?”, the reply, “Oh, just a Garden Centre”. On the outside I’m smiling, but on the inside I’m thinking “It’s not just a Garden Centre!”.
The Garden Centre is a location my wife personally inflicts on me once or twice a month, where I get dragged around various displays of clothing, candles and books from obscure authors writing on subjects I’ve got no interest in (no offence intended to train, tram, bus or tractor spotters), alongside some plants and spades.
If I behave myself (no huffing and puffing, pulling faces or generally looking bored) I’m treated to tea and a cake, and then we go home, suitably refreshed, carrying candles, a weird coloured fleece and a book about 1930’s Massey Fergusson tractors.
This has always been my experience of Garden Centres, however, since joining the Oomph! Out & About service, I’ve seen the true impact of going to these places. Places that I once thought of as torture, now become amazing venues filled with new and exciting objects that can be touched and smelled and that are visually colourful – a true Aladdin’s cave of treasures. Some residents love to interact with young children, their parents and the staff of the Garden Centres, their faces light up with these encounters. The people who come on our trips leave the Garden Centres mentally stimulated, and this is sometimes the only time they are able to get out of their care home setting.
And then they are treated to tea and cake just like I am – although they huff and puff less beforehand! This is another part of the trip residents enjoy, socialising with each other and staff members in a different location… It truly is a humbling experience.
On the ride home, some of the residents fall asleep due to all the mental stimulation they’ve just encountered, others chat with the staff about their visit. It’s a picture of contentment either way.
So whenever I hear, “Just a garden centre”, there may well be a smile on my face… and that’s because I know that it definitely is not JUST a Garden Centre at all.
To find out more about getting your residents Out & About, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 601 6363