Highlands to be home for UK's first outdoor dementia resource centre
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The UK’s first outdoor dementia resource centre is to be established in Strathspey.
Alzheimer Scotland is due to launch the new project near Glenmore thanks to a successful bid for funding as part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s (NLHF) Heritage Horizons Award from the Cairngorms Trust.
The unique project will enable people with dementia and their family carers to experience the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors.
Following a successful small pilot group featuring activities including woodlands walks, wildlife surveys and wood carving, plans to open the centre are well under way at Badaguish Outdoor Centre.
Now more than ever, people are looking to spend time in nature and Alzheimer Scotland believes that access to the outdoors is essential for people living with dementia and their carers.
“They can be at risk of becoming socially isolated, lonely and depressed and as a result they can often develop an indoor lifestyle,” a charity spokesperson said.
“Spending time outdoors can provide instant benefits, including reducing stress and distress associated with dementia, increasing and improving physical activity, providing mentally engaging activities and providing opportunities to learn new skills and hobbies or rediscover old ones.”
It also gives people with dementia and their family or carers a chance to connect in a different environment and have fun together.
Carers who attended the pilot group reported that their loved one was more relaxed and in a better mood for the rest of the day after the outdoor sessions.
Jan Grant, of Kingussie, whose husband Donnie has attended sessions previously, said: “We are very pleased to hear Alzheimer Scotland has been successful in procuring funding for this very worthwhile project.
“Donnie has always enjoyed the trips up to the Alzheimer Scotland Tipi Days and all the different ways the charity’s Kenny Wright and Gillian Councill have both made each session so interesting. These special days have been very much missed in the past months.
“He is looking forward to them becoming a regular date again at the new base.”
Martyn Crawshaw, chairman of the Speyside Trust, was delighted to welcome Alzheimer Scotland to Badaguish after the successful bid for the Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre.
“In all our discussions we have been impressed with how far-sighted the Alzheimer Scotland team was in making best use of the Glenmore Forest area to benefit all using their service.”
For over three decades Badaguish had aimed to give people of all abilities support and facilities to enjoy the outdoors, he explained.
“And we are pleased that the Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre will allow another group of users to gain ‘green health’ benefits of the local environment.”
Grant Moir, Cairngorms National Park Authority chief executive, said the centre will be a very welcome addition locally.
He commented: “The CNPA is delighted to be working in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland as part of our successful NLHF Heritage Horizons Award.
“In creating a place where people and nature can thrive together, we will also benefit health and wellbeing of our residents and visitors.
“As we have an ageing population, activities that mitigate or delay the debilitating impacts of dementia will be a key focus...
“Closely linked with our planned NHS referral initiatives, this project will create a centre of excellence for outdoor focused dementia activities for patients and carers.”
Alzheimer Scotland is aiming to create 21 Dementia Resource Centres across Scotland.
The charity provides a 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000.