Celebrating the Colors of Summer

Participants of the UVM Health Network Home Health & Hospice’s (VNA) Adult Day Program in South Burlington celebrated the “Dog Days of Summer” on a recent August day with a garden party picnic and summer-themed flower arranging workshop led by registered Horticultural Therapist Donna Covais and her team of Master Gardener volunteers.

For the past six years, Donna and her team have led a flower-arranging project every two weeks for the participants of the Adult Day Program, offering advice and tips as well as providing information about the plants being used. When they first brought this program to the UVM Health Network Home Health & Hospice, they had a half-dozen eager participants. Now, nearly every participant in the Adult Day program looks forward to and takes part in this activity.

Master Gardener and registered Horticultural Therapist Donna Covais leads the Adult Day participants in a recent flower arranging workshop.

“This program has just blossomed in the last six years,” says Donna. “I am so thankful to my Master Gardener volunteers who have been amazing in helping me form ideas for both the gardens outside the building that we care for and the flower-arranging projects we do with the Adult Day participants.”

Horticultural programs, such as the one Donna and her team bring to the Adult Day Program, can have significant benefits to seniors and people with disabilities. Horticultural therapy can help improve memory, cognitive and language skills, strengthen muscles and improve coordination and balance.

Master Gardener and volunteer Robilee Smith offers a selection of flowers to an Adult Day participant.

This is especially beneficial to the participants at the Adult Day Program, many of whom have memory impairments. Activities offered are designed to be both fun and functional, encouraging social engagement while offering therapeutic services and appropriate levels of exercise. For some of the participants, there is a connection to gardening or working with their hands. For others, it’s a chance to socialize.

When the summer-themed flower arrangements were done, they were used as centerpieces on tables set out in the gardens that Donna and her team maintain for a garden party picnic and a chance to enjoy their results of their hard work.

Robilee Smith, one of the Master Gardener volunteers remarks, “Every arrangement is different and every arrangement is beautiful, just like the people in this group.”