Case Study: Managing Risk and Reaping Rewards

Two people gardening

Vicky Peet leads Froglife’s Leaping Forward for Dementia project, supported by the City Bridge Trust.

Froglife logoThe-project empowers people living with dementia to access the benefits of nature and the outdoors. They offer weekly wildlife workshops called Wild Times described as “dementia friendly nature on prescription”, designed to help improve the health, wellbeing and confidence of people living with dementia and their support network.

Vicky has followed Dementia Adventure for some time. Her own personal values aligning with our vision to enable people with dementia to access the health and wellbeing benefits of nature and the outdoors. Vicky has been inspired by our work and has regularly attended training that has informed her own projects.

“I love the positivity of the Dementia Adventure training. It’s realistic, but it remains positive at all times. Every time a very real challenge is talked about, there’s a positive solution to it.” 

Six Steps to Success

To make sure Vicky was equipped to get the best from her projects, and ensure they were sustainable for the future we trained her in our Six Steps to Success:

  1. The importance of co-production.
  2. What research tells us about social isolation and the benefits of connection to nature for well-being.
  3. A review of risk and dementia guidance documents.
  4. The barriers and benefits of outdoor activities.
  5. Positive risk management.
  6. Ensuring the success and sustainability of outdoor adventures.

“Dementia Adventure training has given me the theory and the tools to do things. It’s made me aware and given me the skills to put them into action – it’s great seeing them all fitting together.” 

Positive Risk

A key part of the training explored positive risk management, which has significant benefits for people with dementia, and results in high levels of motivation and engagement from activity participants.

The work that Vicky does with Froglife could be perceived as being ‘too risky’ for people with dementia,

“We do quite a lot of perceived higher risk or even actual higher risk activities. We use bow saws to take down limbs of trees. We’ve had wonderful sessions, with a mixed inclusive group of people with dementia and also people over 55, who are wanting to explore more exciting skills. I had Asian ladies, putting together raised planters with drills saying, ‘I’ve never used a drill before!’”

Lady walking through field of yellow flowersOur training and principles have helped ensure that her initiatives have been planned properly and structured to make sure she’s providing the correct level of support for both people living with dementia and their carers.

“I now feel I can explain properly about how we are safely managing risk and what we’re doing to keep people safe. I understand more now about ‘perceived risk’. Sometimes the person with dementia and their partner can be separated on site, which is quite an empowering thing, but I need to be able to explain why it’s a good thing and how we are managing it. To be able to explain that you don’t need to worry about your husband or wife and that they are safe here is really important.”

When asked what the highlight of the training was, Vicky said,

“I think that it was this awareness around perceived risks that really added to my toolbox, understanding that not everybody else might be aware of what it is beneficial to try and find ways to take positive risks. For example, in one of my groups, they know the ornamental garden very well, but it’s right next to a forest that they’ve never ventured into. They had thought they wouldn’t be allowed to go in there, and one lady said she thought it would be too dangerous. But now we go in there quite often, and they are surprised by how clear and open it is for them.”

What Vicky has learned from Dementia Adventure has given her confidence to go beyond the standard outdoor activities, and offer enjoyable, adventurous activities that have been carefully planned and structured to provide the correct level of support for both people living with dementia and their caregivers.

“The support Dementia Adventure gives and being able to ask questions is incredible. I found them very, very approachable, even for help after the project had ended.”