Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro uses flowers to lift patients’ spirits

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Treating a person’s spirit is just as important as treating an illness. That’s why there are lots of smiles when horticultural therapist Sally Cobb makes a house call.

“Hi Jean!” said Cobb as she cheerfully greeted her patient, Jean.

“Hi Sally!” replies Jean.

“I got you some flowers,” Cobb said.

Who wouldn’t be excited to get a large basket full of flowers exploding with color and filling the living room with a wonderful scent?

“That smells sweeter than I thought it was going to,” Cobb said.

“It really does,” adds Jean.

The team gets together and arranges the flowers and plants. But it’s Jean who is doing most of the work.

“Anywhere there is a population where you have goals, nature can provide a lot of wonderful distraction and value,” Cobb said.

Cobb is a horticultural therapist for Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro. The goal of this flower arrangement is to give Jean something else to think about other than her illness. Also, the activity creates a sense of ownership.

“As you noticed, as I was sitting next to Jean, I didn’t do very much,” Cobb explained. “I could have my hands tied behind my back. She was doing the work of putting the arrangement together.”

This isn’t the first time Jean has put together an arrangement filled with flowers like roses and lantanas. The activity reminds Jean of her childhood.

“My mother loved flowers and so did my father,” Jean said. “They planted anything that could be given.”

With the vase now filled with flowers and plants, there’s plenty of smiles and positive thoughts.

“I love people,” Jean said. “I love learning something and that makes my life worth living.”

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