Woodland walk in grounds of Belton House helps Grantham dementia sufferers

Woodland Trust organised walk at Belton House. 141D
Woodland Trust organised walk at Belton House. 141D
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Dementia sufferers who attend the Forget Me Not Day Centre in Grantham went for a stroll through woodland in the grounds of Belton House as part of an improved wellbeing project.

Joined by carers and staff from the Woodland Trust’s VisitWoods team, the group took a walk through the woodland where they were able to immerse themselves in nature and see many different types of wildlife.

The event was part of an ongoing partnership between research organisation Dementia Adventure and the trust, which aims to support the 670,000 in the UK living with the dibilatating condition. The partnership has carried out a pilot project over the last two years, taking groups of care home residents living with dementia on woodland trips, resulting in a clear improvement in their physical, mental and social wellbeing.

The event at Belton House was a celebration of both charities’ work and a chance for staff to understand the challenges people living with dementia face on a daily basis, and how woodland visits help.

Simone Ashley-Norman, VisitWoods communications manager said: “As a member of the Dementia Action Alliance, part of our pledge is to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy woods. VisitWoods provides the tools for those unsure about visiting woods to do so more easily, which is crucial for helping people with specific needs to gain the confidence to enjoy their visit.”

A recent study by the Alzheimer’s Society has suggested that over 80 per cent of people living in care homes also have dementia or severe memory problems and staff working on the project hope to reach thousands more people across the country.

Neil Mapes, director of Dementia Adventure, said: “When out in nature and in woodland settings the person emerges and dementia becomes less of a focus. This project has been an inspiration and we would like it to take place over a larger scale to reach the many thousands of people living with dementia across the UK.”

It is hoped that the findings from the project will lead to a more rigorous investigation into the specific benefits of woodland and other outdoor environments for people living with dementia in care homes. The findings highlighted strong indications that anxiety, apathy, anger and depression, which all too commonly predominate in long-term care settings, were also shown to occur with less frequency after exposure to nature.