Is it nice outside? Consulting people living with dementia and their carers about engaging with the natural environment

By Editor on 6th April 2016

This project, commissioned by Natural England, in collaboration with Dementia Adventure, the Mental Health Foundation and Innovations in Dementia, aims to investigate what the key benefits are from engaging with the natural environment, for people living with dementia, what the barriers are to them doing the; and what changes could be brought in to make the natural environment more accessible for people living with dementia.

The project involved a consultation with people living with dementia, an online survey of carers and interviews with a small sample of carers.  The authors discovered that only 20 per cent of the people living with dementia considered that their condition was a barrier to using outdoor spaces, whereas 83 per cent of carers believed that dementia limited the person’s ability.  Beneficial activities enjoyed by those living with dementia included informal walking, wildlife or bird watching, with areas with water being the most popular places to visit. 

However, some urban green spaces such as allotments, city farms and communal gardens were underused and key barriers included lack of confidence; fears and safety concerns; not having transport; insufficient information about what places have to offer and their suitability for visitors with dementia; and, lack of support to get to locations, to use facilities and to participate in outdoor activities.  More...