Dementia-Friendly Garden Room and Patio Bring Outdoors in at Southington Care Center

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Sitting in the late afternoon sunshine on May 15, Rose Griffin and other Southington Care Center residents were among the guests enjoying the new outdoor patio. They were gathered there to witness the ribbon-cutting for the new garden room and therapeutic outdoor space that was approximately two years in the making from conception to completion. Whether relaxing outside or by the indoor fireplace, residents and their loved ones have already been enjoying the new area, Griffin said as she gave her remarks during the ceremony.

The second-floor project was designed to engage patients who have dementia with the outdoors but all residents and staff have been using the room and patio which feature comfortable seating, raised planters, a window wall and custom lighting. In considering the older population and skilled-nursing setting, great attention to detail had been taken by architect Amenta/Emma and building contractor C.E. Floyd.

Among those attending the event were board members and staff of the Main Street Community Foundation, which awarded the $150,000 grant from the Bradley Henry Barnes & Leila Upson Barnes Memorial Trust. “This space really expands and illustrates the vision that Bradley Barnes had to better lives in the Southington community. Bringing the outside in has enhanced the health and well-being of residents and staff. It’s amazing,” said Susan Sadecki, president and CEO of the Main Street Community Foundation.

Studies have shown that connection to nature and natural daylight is vital for physical, mental and emotional well-being. Residents will be able to plant flowers, watch birds and butterflies, and experience the sights, sounds and feelings of outdoors.

“It is hard to convey in words the way this new environment lifts and brightens the way people feel sitting in the beautiful lounge or outdoor patio. Many thanks to everyone who had a hand in designing, planning and constructing this beautiful space,” said Lisa Connolly, NHA, MS, vice president, Hartford HealthCare Community Network.

Among the guests were donors of the new fireplace which was dedicated in the memory of residents Wallace Bickley and Mary “Mitzi” Kohl. Tracey Eck represented the Bickley family and a group of women who had known Kohl since childhood gathered around the fireplace for photos.

William Kowalewski, Southington Care Center executive director, thanked the foundation for making the vision a reality. “The Main Street Community Foundation and Southington Care Center have the same goals: to promote the well-being of those in our community,” he said.

Southington Care Center, located at 45 Meriden Ave., offers skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, and is a not for profit member of Hartford HealthCare Senior Services. For more information about Southington Care Center, visit

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