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A green thumb at Kilmarnock Heights Home
Kilmarnock Heights Home resident Kevin Garrett.
Kilmarnock Heights Home resident Kevin Garrett.

Rain or shine, Kilmarnock Heights Home resident Kevin Garrett can be found tending to the trees and shrubs on the grounds of the Berhampore rest home.

It’s no mean feat, 4,500 native plants were planted on a 3,000 square metre section of the property last year after the area was damaged by a large slip in 2013.

“I look after the whole area. I’m out there every morning after breakfast weeding around the plants, I go back in for morning tea, and then I’m back out again before I go in for lunch,” says Kevin.

Despite the winter weather Kevin gets out in the garden whenever he can.

“I have a shed out there if the weather turns bad, but a little rain doesn’t bother me. It’s good having a job to do. It makes me feel useful.”

Recreation officer Annelize Steyn says when Kevin first moved to Kilmarnock Heights Home five years ago he spent most of him time indoors, doing jigsaw puzzles and reading the newspaper, but having a project has taken him outside to do what he loves.

“Having the planting project here has transformed his life,” says Annelize.

“It has given him a purpose and a reason to get out of bed every day. He’s adopted it as his job, and best of all he’s getting fresh air, exercise and is doing something he enjoys.”
Annelize says Enliven truly believes having meaningful activity and a sense of purpose is important to elders wellbeing.

“Kevin shows people around and feels really proud of his project and the contribution he has made to the home. It has given him such a focus and it’s just lovely how he has beautified the site even more. His enthusiasm has encouraged volunteers to give him a hand too.”

She says many of the elders who live at Kilmarnock Heights Home have little jobs they like to do to make a contribution to their home.

“It makes them feel worthwhile and like they are making a difference. It’s part of our model of care,” says Annelize.

“Some residents enjoy folding the kitchen linen because that’s what they would do for their family. Some feed the animals every day. It could be setting the tables with the fine China for afternoon tea, making birthday cards for fellow residents or baking treats for the home and the community. It’s the little things that give us a feeling of giving back and having independence.”

Kilmarnock Heights Home is operated by Enliven, part of the not-for-profit organisation Presbyterian Support Central, and provides rest home and respite care as well as a stimulating day programme.

For more information about Kilmarnock Heights Home, located at 20 Morton Street in Berhampore, call 0508 ENLIVEN (that’s 0508 36 54 83) or click here.

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