Sowing in the autumn season : exploring benefits of green care farms for dementia patients

S.R. de Bruin

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


In the Netherlands an increasing number of farms combine agricultural production with care services for people with care needs. It is generally believed that these green care farms (GCFs) have beneficial effects on the health status of a diversity of target groups. At present, empirical studies testing this hypothesis are scarce. The main objective of the studies described in this thesis was to gain insight into the potential benefits of day care at GCFs for community‐dwelling older dementia patients. Day care at GCFs was therefore compared with day care at regular day care facilities (RDCFs). In view of the differences between both day care types regarding the day care setting and day care program it was hypothesized that they would differ in their effects on the health status of dementia patients. In two cross‐sectional studies it was tested to what extent the day program of dementia patients at GCFs differed from those at RDCFs. It appeared that at GCFs, dementia patients were (physically) more active, participated in more diverse activities, were more outdoors, and had more opportunities to perform activities in smaller groups than those at RDCFs. It was tested whether these differences resulted into different effects for five domains of health: dietary intake, cognition, emotional well‐being, behaviour, and functional performance. In a comparative cross‐sectional study dietary intake of dementia patients attending day care at GCFs or RDCFs was recorded both at home and during their time at the day care facility. The study showed that dementia patients attending day care at GCFs had significantly higher intakes of energy, carbohydrate, and fluid than their counterparts attending day care at RDCFs. In a cohort study, rates of change during 1 year in cognitive functioning, emotional well‐being, behavioural symptoms, and functional performance were compared between dementia patients attending day care at GCFs and RDCFs. Functioning in these domains remained rather stable and no differences were observed between subjects from GCFs and RDCFs. In the cohort study, also caregiver burden of family caregivers of these dementia patients was assessed. Caregivers’ quality of life, emotional distress, and feelings of competence remained rather stable in family caregivers of dementia patients from both day care settings. In conclusion, the present work has shown that GCFs exceeded RDCFs in offering older dementia patients a diverse day program and in stimulating their dietary intake. The latter may result into a better preserved nutritional status in dementia patients attending day care at GCFs than in those attending day care at RDCFs. GCFs and RDCFs were equally effective in preventing significant decrease of cognitive functioning, emotional well‐being, and functional performance and in preventing significant increase of the number of behavioural symptoms. Both day care types further prevented significant increase of caregiver burden. Day care at GCFs is a new and valuable addition to the present care modalities for community‐dwelling older dementia patients and their caregivers
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • van der Zijpp, Akke, Promotor
  • Schols, J.M.G.A., Co-promotor, External person
  • Oosting, Simon, Co-promotor
  • Enders-Slegers, M.J., Co-promotor, External person
Award date9 Dec 2009
Place of Publication[S.l.
Print ISBNs9789085855095
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • dementia
  • elderly patients
  • patient care
  • day care
  • health
  • human activity
  • food intake
  • social care farms
  • multifunctional agriculture
  • well-being

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