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The design of a horticultural therapy model and a practical business plan for a horticulturist interacting with a healthcare worker
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The term "horticultural therapy" is unfamiliar to most South Africans. However it is well accepted in South Africa that horticulture plays an important role in human well being both physically and psychological. It is generally believed that people who engage in gardening tend to benefit. The research study investigates whether plant related activities integrated into rehabilitation programme, actually benefit participants. It shows how patients at a chosen healthcare institution respond upon exposure to various horticulture activities in order to identify activities appropriate for the inclusion and design in a horticultural therapy programme. The study identifies factors necessary for the design of a business plan for a horticulturist engaging in a horticultural therapy programme under local conditions. The methodology adopted was mainly quantitative. The study is also descriptive in nature. It seeks to develop a model from a range of activities that would best meet the needs of specific groups subjects, through the careful and deliberate observation and evaluation of patients as they engage with the activities. The measuring instruments have been designed for experimentation research purpose. It involved setting up an experiment (patients engaged in a designed horticulture activity) and collecting the data. Information regarding the participant response to designed activities was also gathered on the basis of observations and interviews. The population consisted of patients admitted at a public (State) psychiatric institution in the Western Cape. The sample consisted of 12 patients, four patients from each of the following categories: Forensics, Intellectually Challenged, and Psychiatric. The designed activities consisted of 10 activities, and were centered around the following activities: Growing of herbs, learning to take cuttings, planting cuttings, planting seeds for outdoor garden, preparing a garden site, vegetable gardening, weeding, watering, and planting flowering annuals. The first objective of the study was to determine whether the response of different categories of patients to specific horticulture activities differ, in order to select the appropriate activity for each category. Forensic patients responded positively to all ten activities and recorded a high level (70%) of task accomplishment. Intellectually challenged patients had a medium level (46% to 69%) of task accomplishment for the majority of the activities. Psychiatric patients had a high level (70%) for 50 percent of the activities and a medium level (46% to 69%) of task accomplishment for the remainder of the activities. The second objective of the study was to evaluate the degree of effect of the different horticulture activities on each category of patients, in order to determine the relative importance of each activity in the programme in meeting the patients needs. The general findings are that the various categories responded differently to the subsections as shown in the results. Individual patients within the categories also differed in their response to various activities. The results of the study indicate that certain horticultural activities have an impact on patient's deficiencies and encourage their specific needs in the areas of a vocational/educational, interpersonal/social, and responsibility/development The study identified factors necessary for the design of a business plan for a horticulturist to engage in a horticultural therapy programme under local conditions. The business plan provides an outline to develop, market, and implement a horticultural therapy service. The business plan helps identify important ramifications of setting up a business and practicing as a contract worker. The research process has highlighted valuable aspects, which may be easily incorporated into a future horticulture therapy programme. It has shown that certain plant related activities, when successfully integrated into a rehabilitation programme, will benefit participants. The findings and recommendations provide guidelines for the formulation of a structured horticultural therapy programme. It encourages the concept of utilizing gardening in a structured/organized manner to benefit the well being of individuals.