MindSCAPE Project Consultancy and Training - Reconnecting to the Forest
This year Dementia Adventure has been involved in an exciting project in the beautiful Forest of Dean. The MindSCAPE project is a 4 year project designed and led by the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and managed by Artspace Cinderford. Other partners included the Forest of Dean District Council, The Forestry Commission, Alzheimer's Society and the Forest of Dean Dementia Alliance.
Dementia Adventure was invited to work with MindSCAPE at the end of their first year to identify successes, opportunities for further development and sustainability.
The project's aim is to make the Forest of Dean a dementia friendly community. It is designed for people living with dementia, their families and carers, enabling them to reconnect to the local landscape through meetings and workshops. It had been identified that people with dementia who previously had a connection with the forest felt isolated and unable to access it, leaving them feeling that they had lost opportunities to meet people and take part in events and activities.
Dementia Adventure Project Leader, Rachel Niblock, worked directly with project manager, Hannah Elton-Wall from Artspace Cinderford. Dementia Adventure completed a day of observation and discussions with the MindSCAPE staff and particpants to consider what worked well and what could be improved. As a result a consultation and recommendations report was collated in order to support MindSCAPE to continue to enable people living with dementia and their carers to actively participate in nature based activities.
Dementia Adventure also delivered Walk Leader Training with staff from MindSCAPE, the Wye Valley AONB, Forest of Dean District Council and Healthy Walk Leaders to increase awareness of the different considerations that enable people living with dementia to to particpate in walks and other activities in the forest. The training was very successful and described by the participants as 'inspiring', 'invaluable', and 'informative'.
The benefits to the staff, volunteers and participants of this project have been apparent, especially the peer support for carers and those living with dementia. An example being that two participants with dementia were observed discussing sleep patterns and sharing anxieties about what is in store if they have somewhere to go regardless of whether it is something they are looking forward to or not. Carers have given feedback saying it has been invaluable to meet people in the same situation as them and one participant living with dementia said they found the project "friendly, accepting and uncritical of limitations - a wonderful outlet!"
The involvement from Dementia Adventure was summarised by Hannah
"The whole team really enjoyed working with Rachel Niblock. She was a mind of information and gave such clear guidance and advice. She has also provided wonderful support for me individually, her recommendations/suggestions on how we might maximise the benefits of our work have been very useful. Overall, we found the process positive and worthwhile - thanks again for your input!"