Virtual therapeutic horticulture - a social wellness program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities

K. Ryzhikov
Background: underlying medical conditions, the challenges of mask-wearing, and social distancing are among the reasons that many adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) are at heightened risk of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper outlines findings from a pilot program, which aimed to assess the feasibility of delivering a therapeutic horticulture program via a virtual platform with adults with I/DD, and to assess if virtual programming can meet social wellness goals for the I/DD population. Program: 39 adults aged 24-74 who were enrolled in a local day habilitation program in Maryland and Northern Virginia participated in the virtual program. Groups contained participants with similar level of function. Participants joined a virtual class once a week for 60 min for 16 weeks. The class was led by a registered horticultural therapist and a horticultural therapy intern. Classes were multi-sensory and explored horticulture themes through gardening, floral design, art, music, dance, poetry and cooking demonstrations. Once a month the participants received a kit to complete a hands-on activity. Semi-structured interviews, which were visually supported by emoticons, were used to evaluate the program. Transcripts were analyzed. Conclusion: Participants were actively engaged and responded positively to the program. A virtual platform is a feasible method of delivery for a therapeutic horticulture program and may provide an opportunity for enhanced social wellness for adults with I/DD. Implications: Many different modalities can successfully be utilized via a virtual platform including, gardening, floral design, art, music, dance, poetry and cooking. Virtual programming can be used effectively for the I/DD community, which may widen the reach of many services in the future.
Ryzhikov, K. (2021). Virtual therapeutic horticulture - a social wellness program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Acta Hortic. 1330, 55-62
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1330.8
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1330.8
therapeutic horticulture, horticultural therapy, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, virtual programming, telehealth, social wellness, social isolation, loneliness, gardening
English

Acta Horticulturae