News story

Research project surveys: views on dementia, nature and outdoor activity

Research project explores the role of nature and outdoor activity in enabling people to live well with dementia.

The Mental Health Foundation is carrying out a research project commissioned by Natural England’s Outdoors for All programme, which is asking people who are living with ‪‎dementia‬ and their ‪‎carers‬ about their activity and engagement with ‪nature‬ and the ‪outdoors.

If you are a carer of someone who is living with dementia then we would be very grateful if you could complete a short online survey before 31 March 2015.

The survey has been set up to gather new information that will improve the understanding of how outdoor activity in the nature environment might enable more people to live well with dementia. The evidence and insights from this research will be used to support and inform funding submissions for a large-scale project, which we hope will start next year.

Dementia and Engagement with Nature

The survey is part of a new partnership initiative - Dementia and Engagement with Nature – which is being run by Dementia Adventure working with Innovations in Dementia, the Mental Health Foundation and Natural England.

This initial research phase of the project has 2 elements. The first is a survey aimed at better understanding the views and experiences of carers of people living with dementia. As a result of this survey we would like to know:

  • how natural green spaces might be made more dementia friendly
  • better understand why people living with dementia do or don’t participate in outdoor activities in the nature environment,
  • find out what the barriers are for people living with dementia, and their carers, to taking part in activities in the natural environment

If you are a carer of a person who is living with dementia then we would be very grateful if you could contribute to this research by completing the confidential survey.

The views of people living with dementia will be collected through a second phase of the project by way of group discussions and one-to-one sessions.

Adding to the evidence

Welcoming the new survey, Natural England’s Chairman, Andrew Sells, said:

There is already very good evidence that having access to the natural environment benefits people’s mental and physical health, their sense of well-being and quality of life.

There is also emerging evidence of the benefits of engagement with the natural environment for those living with dementia. The information from this survey will add to our understanding of this and help us to take action to enable more people with dementia to be active outdoors.

Dementia directly affects around 800,000 people and a further 670,000 carers. Costs to the health service, local government and families are currently around £23 billion, and estimates suggest this may treble by 2040 (Alzheimer’s Society, 2012). With an ageing population the number of people living with dementia in the UK is estimated to double in the next 30 years.

Background information

In 2013 Natural England published Greening Dementia – a literature review of the benefits and barriers facing individuals living with dementia in accessing the natural environment and local greenspace.