The funding from The National Lottery Community Fund – Improving Lives Fund, will support people living in Perth and Kinross and Ayrshire to enjoy everyday walking activities. By being encouraged to keep moving throughout the day older adults will maintain their functional capabilities to: prevent falls through improved strength, balance and coordination; improve their sleep patterns and improve their overall health and mental wellbeing.
Staying active is important to lower your risk of dementia and can help anyone living with the condition to improve their overall health. Everyday walking can help to improve muscle tone and bone strength, increase cardio-vascular health, manage weight and blood pressure levels. Walking can enable more oxygen to the brain which helps with reasoning, problem solving, spatial mapping and mood.
In Perth and Kinross, Paths for All are working with ten care homes, five each year, over the two years of funding, to introduce a ‘Care About Walking’ project to support care home staff to create a walking culture in their care home and embed walking activities into the daily routine of residents.
The five care homes currently involved in the ‘Care About Walking’ project include Ancaster House, Crieff; Glencairn House, Auchterarder; Stormont Lodge, Blairgowrie; Dalweem House, Aberfeldy and Beech Manor, Blairgowrie.
Activities undertaken will vary depending upon the design and layout of each home and the capabilities of each resident. Between 70% to 90% of care home residents have a dementia diagnosis and there are age-related impairments such as hearing, eyesight and memory to be considered when designing physical activities in care homes.
The National Lottery Community Fund – Improving Lives Fund will allow Paths for All to support care homes to make the necessary environmental changes, provide staff training and supply resources such as walking wall charts and motivational posters from our ‘Care About Walking Resource Pack’.
Sheila Baxter, Activities Coordinator with Beech Manor care home in Blairgowrie is delighted to be part of the ‘Care About Walking’ project. She said: “Families are very happy that their loved one is being encouraged to walk. Staff have enjoyed spending time with residents walking more and they are getting fit too. It’s been a positive influence on staff having posters around the home and making us all aware of the importance and benefits of becoming fitter.”
In Ayrshire, The National Lottery Community Fund – Improving Lives Fund, will support Paths for All to work with people living with dementia and unpaid carers to become more active, access the outdoors and improve their social connections to prevent isolation.
Paths for All will work in partnership with local Walking for Health projects, Dementia Friendly Prestwick and the Care Commission’s Care About Physical Activity programme that works with care homes across East, South and North Ayrshire. Activities will include community consultations to identify Dementia Friendly walking routes; training for local volunteers to lead Dementia Friendly walks; the introduction of walking activities into care homes, and awareness raising of all the walking activities available in the area.
Activities currently underway include working with Dementia Friendly Prestwick, South Ayrshire Council and the local community to consider changes to Prestwick promenade to make it Dementia Friendly – the first of its kind in Scotland. Possible adaptations to make it more accessible include improved signage and the painting of benches with different colours to give a better contrast to their surroundings.
Paths for All’s Chief Officer, Ian Findlay CBE, is delighted with the funding from The National Lottery Community Fund. He said: “This funding is a welcome boost to our Dementia Friendly Walking project. It will help us to make practical changes at a local level in Perth and Kinross and Ayrshire. We will share the results at a National level to encourage more elderly adults to benefit from everyday walking.”
“We want to reduce the barriers for people living with dementia and their carers to enjoy time outdoors. Often adaptions to the outdoor environment are needed to make physical activity easier for older adults. A well designed and inclusive walking environment requires level paths with no changes throughout, more handrails, better drainage to reduce puddles and service covers to be the same colour as the path surface. Working with Dementia Friendly Prestwick to create Scotland’s first Dementia Friendly Promenade will promote the benefits of improving the walking environment for everyone.”
“Working with care homes has identified the need for staff support, resources and training to make changes to both the indoor and outdoor environment to encourage residents to walk as much as they can, for example from their room to the garden.”