Nature-based activities for people living with dementia: a nice day out or a matter of human rights?
Article publication date: 18 November 2021
Issue publication date: 1 February 2022
There is growing interest in and evidence for the benefits of connecting with nature for people living with dementia, sometimes known as “green care”, including reduced stress, improved sleeping and even enhanced cognition. However, many people living with dementia are denied such opportunities, often because of practitioner perceptions of risk and poor design of outdoor spaces. This paper reports on the evaluation of a project that worked with national providers to give people living with dementia opportunities and support to access the natural environment.
The evaluation adopted a mixed-methods approach, using a combination of bespoke and commonly used tools and in-depth case study work to identify the facilitators and challenges to delivering the project and explore the experiences of activity participants.
Qualitative measures indicated a significant improvement in mental well-being for participants with dementia and family carers following attendance at activity sessions. Research interviews indicated that participants enjoyed activities based on connecting with nature. Being outdoors was a major factor in the experience, along with taking part in activities that were meaningful and opportunities for social interaction.
This paper provides evidence for the benefits of connecting with nature for people living with dementia. This paper concludes that access to the outdoors is not a luxury, it is a basic human right and one which has become increasingly important in light of restrictions that have emerged as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.
The evaluation on which this paper is based was funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Ref: 10305983.
Evans, S.C., Atkinson, T., Rogerson, M. and Bray, J. (2022), "Nature-based activities for people living with dementia: a nice day out or a matter of human rights?", Working with Older People, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 64-75. https://doi.org/10.1108/WWOP-08-2021-0040
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