Helping people with dementia enjoy the great outdoors

  • Date

    Thu 27 Jul 17

Researchers at Essex are helping evaluate a new project by award-winning charity Dementia Adventure which helps people living with dementia get outdoors and retain a sense of adventure in their lives.

Dementia Adventure delivers short breaks and holidays, training, support and research to improve the lives of people living with dementia and their carers. This new grant will be used to grow their work, encouraging other organisations across the UK to adopt this in their communities.

The project will be independently evaluated by teams at Essex and the University of Worcester. Dr Mike Rogerson, from our School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, said: “Dementia Adventure has been working hard in this area for many years. The Dementia Adventure in a Box project will give more people living with dementia supported access to natural environments, and may soon come to represent a significant step in enhancing and progressing the dementia care offer in the UK.

“Working with colleagues from the Association for Dementia Studies at University of Worcester, our research will illuminate how the processes of the project unfold, and most importantly, what the actual health and wellbeing outcomes are for people living with dementia, and their carers.”

"Engaging with nature can improve quality of life, build confidence and help lessen the impact of the dementia."
Neil Mapes Chief Executive Officer, Dementia ADventure

Each group involved in the project will be equipped with practical skills and confidence to deliver enjoyable outdoor activities for more people with dementia including animal assisted therapy, gardening and nature and park walks. Research has shown this to be beneficial in reducing feelings of isolation and an unnecessary decline in well-being.

Neil Mapes, Chief Executive Officer at Dementia Adventure, said: “We know that people living with dementia can benefit emotionally, socially and physically from activity outdoors. Engaging with nature can improve quality of life, build confidence and help lessen the impact of the dementia. Our research has also identified the barriers to nature-based interventions, such as fears, safety concerns and practical support. This grant will enable us to start delivering the solutions to these barriers on a bigger scale than we have been able to before now.”

Over the next three years, Dementia Adventure will work in partnership with The Abbeyfield Society, Care Farming UK, the Conservation Volunteers, Methodist Homes Association and Provide CIC. Together they will create and sustain outdoor activities for people with dementia as well as making their existing activities more inclusive.