A Moray wide walking project has been awarded a prestigious Dementia Friendly Walking accolade from Scottish walking charity Paths for All.
The Health and Social Care managed project currently offers 3 Dementia Friendly Health Walks in Elgin, Fochabers and Burghead, with another 6 planned.
Currently, the project provides a total of seventeen free Health Walks across the region to support people to make new friends, appreciate nature, build up their stamina and feel healthier.
The Dementia Friendly Walking accreditation from Paths for All is designed to reassure anyone living with the condition and their carers that the short, low-level walking routes have been risk assessed, are fully accessible and a friendly welcome is provided from trained Volunteer Walk Leaders, who will be following the latest Covid-19 government guidelines.
Prior to the pandemic the project had a dedicated team of 52 volunteers to lead their Health Walk programme. 13 of these volunteers have attended Paths for All’s online Dementia Friendly Walking training. This provides them with the skills and knowledge to support people with the lifelong condition to live well and stay connected to their community, for as long as possible, through providing free easy outdoor exercise. The volunteers have also benefited from Age Scotland’s dementia awareness training.
Working with the Dementia Frailty Nurse co-ordinators based in every Moray GP surgery, Age Scotland and Alzheimer Scotland staff have worked together with Walk Moray’s co-ordinator to link their services together.
Wendy Menzies, Dementia Adviser with Alzheimer’s Scotland, Moray branch said:
“I’m really pleased to see the development of Dementia Friendly Health Walks in Moray. It’s great to be able to signpost people living with dementia and their carers to walks where the leaders have some understanding of the challenges those participating may be facing and are able to create an inclusive environment for the people participating.”
“This has many benefits from social interactions with others, exercise, and to being part of something and feeling included in their community.”
Carl Greenwood, Senior Development Office at Paths for All praised the North East for taking the lead in providing community services for people living with dementia. He said:
“Well done to Walk Moray, and their volunteers, for providing Dementia Friendly Health Walks to support people with dementia and their carers to enjoy time outdoors to look after their health and wellbeing.”
“It is estimated that there are around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and around two-thirds are living at home. Many people find that after a dementia diagnosis they lose their friendship connections and become lonely. It is therefore vital, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns stopping group activities, that there are regular activities to join where everyone can feel included and part of their community. This is exactly what Dementia Friendly Health Walks across Moray are achieving.”