Case Study: The Caversham Golf Club

People on golf carts at Caversham Golf Club

In 2021 The Caversham Golf Club in Reading chose Dementia Adventure as their Captain’s charity of the year, successfully raising £10,000.

The partnership with The Caversham Golf Club was about more than just money. We wanted to leave a legacy of support for people living with dementia in the Reading area.

In partnership with the golf club, Reading Voluntary Action and local Social Prescriber Helen Murphy we designed a package of training, support and consultancy for local social prescribers and organisations wanting to run dementia inclusive health and wellbeing walks, including on the site of the golf club itself. These organisations included:

  • British Islamic Gardens
  • Compass Recovery College
  • GLL
  • Green Health Thames valley
  • Museum of English Rural Life
  • Nature Nurture CIC
  • The Weller Centre

The Partnership

Gary Stangoe, the Golf Club Manager, explained that when they usually raise money, once that is done, they have a presentation evening and that is the end of the relationship:

“This experience has been completely different. I’ve been managing clubs there 24 years and I’ve never seen this type of relationship with a charity, making such a difference locally and within the club.

“For us, it’s probably the most successful partnership that we’ve had. 

“It has opened my eyes to understanding what living with dementia is about and how we can make a difference.” 

The Training

We based the training on two of our core specialisms – Sensory Walks & Outdoor Experiences and Managing Risk.

The training explored topics such as,

  • Understanding how dementia can affect the senses and the outdoor experience.
  • How to facilitate sensory rich experiences.
  • Understanding the health and wellbeing benefits of nature and the outdoors and why it’s good to have contact with local natural environments.
  • How to engage and enable people with small, simple steps.
  • Discovering what matters most to people so you can co-produce activities. 
  • Understanding what makes a dementia inclusive location, including a checklist of things to consider and put in place.
  • Understanding why calculated risk is important and how to undertake policy and process to put your ideas into practice safely.

For Gary, a highlight of the training was hearing about the impact connection to nature has on people living with dementia. We told a story about one of our supported holidaymakers, who was non-verbal. The gentleman spent a few moments sitting by a pond and it stirred memories of fishing with his son. He was able to communicate in full sentences about those experiences.  

The story about the holiday maker on Isle of Wight that sat by a fish pond which brought back memories of him fishing with his son. Yeah, huge… massive. You know that was it. That was me sold… done!

This project has certainly changed my understanding of dementia 100%, you know, it is brilliant!”

The Impact

The training has had a significant impact on the provision of access to nature and outdoor activity locally,

Gary explains, 

“If we have the facilities to assist in a little way, we’ve done a good thing!

“Going forward, we commit the club to making a difference. We’ve already offered our facilities in partnership with Helen and the Social Prescribing Team. And if it hadn’t been for Dementia Adventure, that wouldn’t happen!”

There are now health and wellbeing walks taking place on the private land at the golf club. The club has also offered 1 hour a week for the groups to use for tee times and offered equipment at Fairways for activities. The Caversham is actively encouraging their members to lead or support these activities.

They are also considering building transportation opportunities in the future if needed.

“We just want people to come along, even if it is just to hit a few balls and get that stimulus of doing what they love here. We want this 100%!” 

Gary has found his increased awareness of what life is like with dementia has enabled him to make small, simple changes in his day-to-day work.

“We now understand how the team here at The Caversham can be better at enhancing the experience for members who are living with dementia. You realise that there are all sorts of changes that you’ve made because of your increased awareness. Sometimes this can be just a slight shift or change in perspective, but is incredibly significant!

“(For example) when somebody living with dementia walks into the club that we haven’t seen for a few months, you can see the interaction between them and the other members change. So now I look out for those interactions and try to help.”

Gary uses what he has learnt from Dementia Adventure to help other club members understand the potential challenges a member with dementia might face. He educates them on how to be supportive of needs. He shares strategies with the members to help them interact more successfully, and see that with a little support and encouragement, they can continue to play golf at the club. 

“We have a member with dementia who has less spatial awareness, which can be a health and safety issue. I try to explain to the other members how dementia may be affecting his actions and how to support him sensitively. 

“I help them to recognise the enjoyment for him in that moment and encourage the others to share in that.

“Had I not been involved with you guys and had not done the training, I probably wouldn’t have been making these steps.”

“Through Dementia Adventure and the local teams, our club can make a real difference to people’s lives in our local community.”