Outdoor Space

In recent years the role of nature and access to outdoor spaces in RLTC settings has received greater attention (Bengsston & Carlsson, 2006), elsewhere, the role of biophilic design, which supports the innate connection between humans and nature (Kellert & Wilson, 1995) is being promoted as a critical part of aged care design (Miller & Burton, 2020). 

Access to outdoor space and garden is crucial to the health and wellbeing of people with dementia in terms of socialising.

(Rappe & Topo, 2007)

It is also crucial as therapy (Gibson et al., 2007), as a restorative space (Moore, 2007) and as a break from the “dominant ambience” of the internal setting (Cohen & Weisman, 1991). 

Additionally, outdoor spaces provide significantly safer environments in terms of COVID-19 transmission and are therefore vital for contact with nature, outdoor amenities and visiting. Wang (2021) advocates for outdoor spaces for physical activities (e.g., walking routes) to promote resident wellbeing. He argues that with good natural ventilation, the outdoor environments may be developed into safe common areas with lower risk of infection.  

Ickert et al. (2020) highlight the role of outdoor visits but that these visits require a safe, comfortable physical location where a resident can be brought to meet with family, while maintaining physical distance from others outdoors. 

There is a nice, enclosed garden in unit with tables, parasols and awning for shelter.

- Family member

The view was both a help and a comfort to me during COVID-19 restrictions.

- Resident

No signage for pathways, and some become very slippy in the winter. Could make bigger, longer walks.

- Resident

The grounds are so big it allowed me to go for daily walks during COVID-19.

– Resident

Key Findings


Many of the sites have good access to outdoor space, and this has contributed positively to both resident and staff well-being and quality of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.