Scottish walking charity, Paths for All, has been given £50,000 to help those living with dementia get outdoors and get walking.

The funding, which has been secured for two years, will go towards Paths for All’s Dementia Friendly Walking project – Care about Walking – which aims to embed physical activity and walking into the culture of care homes across the country.

The project will work with care homes in Perth and Kinross to improve older adult’s physical health and mental wellbeing through encouraging group and independent walking, strength and balance exercises, and improvements to the care home environment.

Paths for All is one of 17 organisations to receive funding from the Changing Lives through Sport and Physical Activity Fund.

People living in care homes spend most of their day sitting or lying down, increasing their risk of physical and psychological ill health. Keeping active in later life through strength and balance activities or chair-based exercises and short walks helps to reduce the risk of falls.

Ian Findlay, Chief Officer at Paths for All, said: “We currently support 28 projects to deliver Dementia Friendly Health Walks across Scotland with a team of 600 trained Volunteer Walk Leaders.

“They support anyone living with dementia to enjoy walking outdoors safely and to connect with their local green space and community.

“Currently, some residents from care homes attend their local Dementia Friendly Health Walk. Our work with these care homes has identified a need for care home staff training and resources to help develop more walking, and strength and balance activities suitable for older, frailer adults.

“The £50,000 will enable us to work with 10 care homes in Perth and Kinross to offer person centred physical activity programmes based around walking and strength and balance exercises.”

Activities will be tailored to each resident’s needs following a personal consultation with taster sessions to see what suits them best. Activities on offer include indoor corridor walks, external signed routes in a care home’s grounds, scavenger hunts, outdoor bingo, staff or volunteer led Health Walks, and chair-based strength and balance exercises.

Paths for All Walk Leader training will also be available to staff.

The Care About Walking project is being carried out in partnership with staff from Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, Live Active Leisure’s Walking for Health project ‘Stride for Life’, Perth and Kinross Council, NHS Tayside and the Care Inspectorate’s ‘Care About Physical Activity’ project.

Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership Falls Service Manager Carolyn Wilson is keen to support care homes to help their resident’s enjoy sport and physical activities.

She said: “Moving more and walking is important for health and wellbeing to enable people to enjoy everyday activities. This is particularly important for older frailer people receiving care.

“Paths for All, working alongside the Health and Social Care Partnership, Live Active Leisure and care homes will enable creative and innovative approaches for encouraging more walking and movement to be tested with a view to sharing what works with other care homes.”

Paths for All is supported by the Scottish Government to promote physical activity and Walking for Health in Scotland and is a key delivery partner for the Scottish Government’s National Walking Strategy and the Active Scotland Outcomes Framework.

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