Planting seeds of wellness

UW Nursing students spread cheer despite pandemic restrictions

For dozens of Senior Housing Authority (SHA) residents, impending winter blues have been replaced by fresh greens and fresh perspectives on wellness, thanks to University of Washington (UW) Nursing students.

Students Gelsomina, Nadia and Terri preparing plants at City People’s Garden Store.

This Fall, UW Nursing students Terri Tran, Nadia Krishnan, and Gelsomina Chioino teamed up with Full Life’s SHA Outreach staff, who provide wellness and nursing services for SHA senior housing buildings. With in-person activities on hold during pandemic times, students knew they had to take a fresh approach.

“We needed to find innovative and creative ways to provide care,” explained Terri. “Buildings did have gardens outside that residents used to take care of pre-COVID, so we thought we could bring that inside.”

So that’s exactly what happened.

With a generous donation of 30 houseplants from City People’s Garden Store, students arranged for a pilot houseplant distribution at an SHA building, along with a card of important resident reminders:

Our community roots run deep and you are an important part of our community.

Please accept this plant as a symbol of the importance of self-care as we weather the winter months during the pandemic.

Nurture yourself as you nurture this plant – daily.

Students also elaborated on tips to develop mental strength and resilience, and included community resource reminders in November 2020’s Self-Care Minute newsletter, reaching more than 500 residents in 10 SHA buildings.

Self-Care Minute newsletter distributed to SHA residents.

And the growth has been mutual.

As Terri remarked, “We found this to be very valuable as future nurses to keep finding different ways to interact with people and engage in community-based health.”

Full Life’s SHA Outreach team will utilize students’ assessment questions to evaluate efficacy, anticipating horticultural benefits of reducing stress and promoting purposefulness will last for residents long into the new year.

The UW School of Nursing has partnered with Full Life Care for more than 10 years, linking staff with students engaging in Community Health Nursing Partnership coursework. Students consult with Full Life program staff to identify needs surrounding health promotion within each program’s setting, and plan and implement health promotion initiatives with long-lasting positive impacts.

We are grateful for all 10 UW Nursing students and instructor guidance in Fall 2020, who also supported Adult Day Health clients’ nutrition education, and Health Home clients’ and care coordinators’ chronic pain management resources.

We look forward to partnering with a new UW Nursing student cohort in Winter 2021.