DementiaNewsSocial Care

Aberdeenshire Volunteers Lead the Way with Dementia Friendly Walking

Westhill Walking to Health group have received Dementia Friendly Walking status for their Wednesday morning one-hour Health Walk.

This award from walking charity Paths for All reassures anyone living with dementia and their carers that the walk will be welcoming, accessible, safe and friendly. This reassurance is important to encourage people living with the long-term health condition to enjoy an active and full life.

The team of dedicated Volunteer Walk Leaders in Westhill, which is situated seven miles west of the city of Aberdeen, attended Paths for All’s Dementia Friendly Walk Leader training. This course gave them the skills to support more people to live well with dementia in their local community. The group receive support from a Health Walk Co-ordinator employed by Live Life Aberdeenshire to encourage more people to become active and stay active to benefit their health and wellbeing.

Health Walk Co-ordinator for Aberdeenshire, Kirsty Muirden, found the process of supporting the Westhill Health Walk to become Dementia Friendly beneficial. She said: “I think for both myself and the leaders involved, it has been a really interesting process which has challenged our views and preconceptions of the condition. It has been really rewarding to see how the group has progressed. They have really grown as a project, not only in numbers but also in the quality of their services to the community. I cannot take credit for what has been achieved, as this has been largely down to the leaders and their willingness to undertake extra training, re-risk assess their walking routes, change their resources, and generally being more mindful of how they might engage with and welcome walkers living with dementia to their group.”

“It has also been invaluable to have the input of a local dementia day care service and two local groups supported by Alzheimer Scotland, who allowed us to consult with their groups and have supported us through the process. It could not have been achieved without their willingness to engage with us and support us on this journey.”

Ian Findlay CBE, Chief Officer with Paths for All is delighted that volunteers have made their Health Walk Dementia Friendly. He said: “I would like to congratulate Westhill Walking for Health group’s team of dedicated volunteers for achieving our Dementia Friendly Walking accreditation.”

“This award has been designed to encourage more people living with a long-term health condition, and their carers to feel safe and supported on short outdoor walks in company. Walking groups are a great way to meet new people, explore a local area, and enjoy gentle exercise. Walking can offer many health benefits including mood, cognitive functioning and memory improvements.”

“I am a passionate believer in the beneficial effects of green exercise and the restorative powers of spending time in greenspaces.”

“People living with long term health conditions face more barriers to getting outdoors. It is important that these issues are overcome, and community activities like Health Walks are inclusive.”