For most people the isolation of the Covid-19 lockdown has been hard to endure, but for people with dementia and their families it has been especially difficult. Family carers are telling us they feel less confident about taking their family members outside, and that their partners have deteriorated throughout lockdown because they no longer had the connection to nature and their communities.
In response to what we’re hearing we developed our ‘Out and About’ programme – supported days out, designed to build confidence in leaving the home and for everyone involved to benefit from the well-being benefits of getting outside.
Out and About
The programme itself comprises a trained member of our team meeting with a person living with dementia and their husband or wife. We plan a trip out, taking care of all the details so they don’t have to, whether it be for a picnic in a park, a walk by the sea, or take in the views of the countryside.
The days out:
- Build confidence levels for family supporters and people with dementia to get outside more frequently.
- Get people back out in their local communities.
- Connect people with nature, and all its well-being benefits.
- Increase opportunities for people with dementia to have new experiences that encourage engagement.
- Give carers support and company so they can connect with nature and relax knowing that we are there to ensure their family member with dementia is looked after.
In August 2020 we took John and Gill to Hyde Hall in Essex for a picnic lunch and walk about the gardens.
When we spoke with Gill during lockdown she was finding things very difficult, as she’d not been able to go out with John for weeks and it had led to his dementia deteriorating.
As the trip started John was very quiet, and not engaging with others, but as the day went on his interaction levels increased significantly with Gill commenting that she ‘hadn’t seen him speak at this level for many months now’.
A highlight of the day was a beautiful moment of connecting with nature as we took our shoes off and walked barefoot on the soft grass, while smelling the flowers that surrounded us.
“It was lovely to go somewhere, and be able to look at the plants and relax, as I wouldn’t normally be able to do this, as I would need to keep an eye on John all the time. To be able to do this was invaluable.” – Gill
Following the trip Gill says that John’s level of interaction has increased, he is more responsive to her and when he is with the wider family he communicates with them more than he was. The ‘out and about’ day was a positive experience for them, making significant difference to them both.
Since their day out Gill and John have enjoyed a picnic out with her family. Gill said that before the trip she wouldn’t have taken a picnic as it would have felt like too much pressure with John to consider, but they both enjoyed their Hyde Hall picnic so much, she now feels confident to do it herself.