Dementia Active Naturally programme launches in Salford

6 April 2016

City of Trees is working with people living with dementia after nearly £20k was awarded for nature activity programme.

The Dementia Active Naturally programme, which focuses on nature and conservation, aims to increase physical activity, increase mental wellbeing and improve social cohesion and will be delivered as part of the City of Trees movement.

We were awarded nearly £20,000 through the NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Salford CVS Joint Health and Wellbeing Innovation Fund to carry out the programme.

A range of activities are on offer to those living with dementia, their family members and their carers, including walks, gentle cycle rides using specially adapted bikes, practical conservation and exploring the natural world.

There are also drop-in sessions every fortnight from March – November 2016 with wildflower planting, creative sessions and sensory workshops.

The activities are taking place on the Port Salford Greenway, a traffic free cycling and walk way for leisure and commuting, connecting the communities of Winton, Peel Green and Brookhouse.

There is a growing body of evidence to show that engaging with the natural environment and in particular woodlands and trees has huge health benefits.

Dr Tom Tasker, A GP in Eccles and clinical lead for mental health at NHS Salford CCG, said: “Salford is taking the lead in its work around dementia and supporting those residents who are living with the condition. We are delighted to see this money being put to such a great use. Physical activity is vitally important to the health and wellbeing of people living with the condition, and the Dementia Naturally Active Programme will be a huge benefit to many of our residents.”

Jess Thompson, from the City of Trees team, is studying an MSC in Dementia at the University of Salford. She said: “Spending time outdoors and being active is a great way to stay healthy and meet people. Everyone needs a level of Vitamin D, but it is really important for people who are living with dementia. Also, by going outside for a walk and engaging in your natural environment it has the power to regulate your body clock, which improves health and sleep.

These sessions are a great opportunity for people living with dementia their carers and their family, to spend some quality time together and meet new people. We’re also planning to run some sessions for the whole family to come along to, such as picnics and family bike rides.”

Dementia Active Naturally is the latest in a wider programme of activity being carried out as part of the City of Trees movement to help people living with dementia, across Greater Manchester.

Working with the Alzheimers Society there are weekly walks in Heaton Park, which aim to provide an opportunity for people living with dementia and their family to get together.

Through events and learning opportunities the team at City of Trees is also working with older people and people who live with dementia to record their stories and memories of local tree heritage.

Jess said: “We run reminiscence sessions using a box with dried leaves, conkers and twigs in, to smell and it triggers lots of memories, particularly of childhood.

For people living with dementia, childhood memories are often the most intact. And more often than not they are positive. We are working with these reminiscence boxes to help people recall memories.”

Salford Museum has a bank of reminiscence boxes on loan in its library and City of Trees will be creating one for their collection.

People accessing trees, woodlands and urban green spaces can see improvements to their health and this is being increasingly documented.

Jess Thompson will be helping to contribute to this by documenting the work that they deliver through her MSC at Salford University. Jess added: “It is important to have an evidence base so that we can learn about what is successful and how activity with the natural world can impact on those living with Dementia. We’re really looking forward to welcoming more people on to the programme."

To find out more about Dementia Active Naturally, contact Lucy Holland on 0161 872 1660 or email – lucy@cityoftrees.org.uk