From 29 April 2022, Compass Housing Services became Home In Place.

Compass Housing Services (Compass) has teamed up with the Royal Botanic Gardens and New Horizons to build and plant a sensory garden at one of its new Specialist Disability Accommodation properties in the Maitland area.

Residents of the new group home in Bolwarra will soon be enjoying home grown lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and bush tucker as well as citrus fruits. Additional trees will also be planted on the property. The garden was funded by Compass as part of its sustainability program.

Sensory gardens allow people to connect with nature by touching, rubbing, smelling and eating the plants. They use plants, water, and other materials with a variety of aromas, textures, colours, noises and shapes to invokes the senses of smell, taste, sight and sound. They are increasingly being used in public spaces, schools, in public housing, and for people with special needs to develop a range of new skills.

Compass’ Sustainability Manager, Jandy McCandless, said this garden has even more significance and value because the residents of the home are visually impaired.

Ms McCandless said community gardens are an important part of Compass’ tenant and resident engagement programs.

Community gardens can help tenants to develop life skills and bring residents together

Compass' Sustainability Manager Jandy McCandless

Compass built its first sensory garden in one of its disability housing properties in Newcastle in September.

She said in other community gardens installed in Compass properties, there have been positive results above and beyond the expected improvements in nutrition and social interaction.

“Community gardens can help tenants to develop life skills and bring residents together,” Ms McCandless said.

Compass Group Managing Director, Greg Budworth said residents of the Bolwarra home used to live at the Stockton Centre. The new group home is one of 69 being built across the region by Home4Life, a joint venture between Compass and BlueCHP. The homes will eventually house approximately 300 people.

Mr Budworth said that the NSW Government has selected six Supported Independent Living (SIL) organisations to provide, highly specialised, 24-hour support at the homes. New Horizons manages this home and its staff will help residents care for and enjoy the garden.

“This is a new way of delivering modern, quality, specialist disability accommodation,” Mr Budworth said.

This sensory garden is a small but important aspect of how we are working with the SILs to create homes for life,” he said.

Brenden Moore from the Royal Botanic Gardens has helped Compass to create other gardens for tenants in other parts of the Hunter and NSW. He joined tenants to build the sensory garden in Newcastle as well as a garden at a Muswellbrook social housing complex in September.

The Royal Botanic Gardens donates Brenden’s time and bring the hardware for building gardens, the plants and trees, and the knowledge to help residents to enjoy and make the most of their garden.

Compass is a Hunter-based, Tier 1, not for profit community housing provider and an NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation provider. It manages almost 7,000 properties in NSW and Queensland, including properties for people with disabilities.

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