Rich Square Nursing opens new garden and patio area

Published 12:02 pm Monday, December 3, 2018

RICH SQUARE – The residents at Rich Square Nursing and Rehabilitation now have more space to enjoy different outdoor activities. A ribbon-cutting was held Nov. 17 to celebrate the opening of the facility’s new patio, garden, and playground area.

“This is our Gardening and Play Program,” explained Freda Wright, Executive Director of the long-term care facility located on North Main Street.

The project was made possible by a grant they received from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS). Wright contracted Eagle Landscaping out of Roanoke Rapids to perform the work. The grant money was used to extend the current patio area, add two wheelchair garden beds, construct a pagoda in the center, and install a playground for young visitors.

In the past, residents were mostly limited to enjoying the outdoors from a rocking chair on the building’s long front porch. But the new project will provide a wider range of possibilities for the residents. The pagoda, for example, will offer another place in the shade to appreciate the weather on a nice day. The playground will be a space where children can have fun while visiting their grandparents.

“We noticed that we have a lot of families that bring their children and grandchildren in, and we really didn’t have an area for them to be other than the lobby or the family room, which is a small area. So that’s why we added the playground to the outside,” Wright said, noting that keeping the kids occupied will also give parents and grandparents a better chance to relax while visiting each other.

One aspect of the project Wright said many of the residents were especially excited about is the garden.

“We’ve never had an area where we could do a vegetable garden or even a flower garden that they could access because most of our residents are in wheelchairs,” Wright explained.

Many of the facility’s residents, she added, were avid gardeners before, but they didn’t have much opportunity to continue the hobby other than with a few potted plants. Now with the new space, they’ll be able to grow a variety of different things. Wright said they intend to incorporate the vegetables they will grow into meals at the facility.

“That’s one of the things they’re looking forward to,” she added, “like having fresh tomatoes and all that stuff.”

This most recent project is just one of several Wright has helped bring about at Rich Square Nursing and Rehabilitation. As a member of the North Carolina Culture Change Coalition, Wright actively works towards implementing new projects to improve life in long-term care facilities.

“We’re looking at changing the culture for our seniors that live in long-term care to make it more person-centered, so they can do more activities that they did prior to coming to us,” she explained.

After talking with residents over the years about what improvements they’d like to see, Wright has worked to get grants to implement new projects. About two years ago, they received grant funding to purchase a touchscreen TV full of apps and games for the residents to enjoy. One of Wright’s future plans is to work on enhancing the dining program to make it more like visiting a restaurant.

The Garden and Play Project was originally scheduled to hold its Open House ribbon-cutting event in September after they received the grant at the end of July. But issues with the weather—including Hurricanes Florence and Michael—delayed the work progress. Despite all that, the work was completed and a celebration of the new addition was held in November with the community invited to join in the special event.

“Everyone is just so excited,” Wright said, noting the residents have enjoyed watching the work progress over the past few months as the empty grassy area outside was transformed into their new recreation space.

Though the cooler temperatures of winter will probably delay many outdoor activities, Wright said they plan to decorate the space for the upcoming Christmas holidays. And the newest addition to the facility will be there for residents to enjoy in a variety of ways for a long time to come.