Woodland activity programme helps people with early-stage dementia

Initial results from a study published today, suggest that woodland activity programmes enhance and complement traditional treatments for those patients with early stage dementia.

Information gathered from interviews and observations indicated that a specifically designed ten week pilot woodland activity programme provided participants with an overwhelmingly positive experience, contributing to well-being and feelings of self-worth.

The study was supported by Forestry Commission Scotland and carried out by Mandy Cook, a PhD student from the University of Dundee.

As a result of the findings, Forestry Commission Scotland aims to roll out their 10 week woodland activity programme to new locations in the future.

Speaking at the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Awareness Week Conference today in Glasgow, Kevin Lafferty of Forestry Commission Scotland said:

“The initial findings from the new study are very promising. 

“It is clear that the woodland activity programme has demonstrated huge benefits for those taking part, not only for people with dementia, but also their carers.

“We know that dementia is likely to become an ever increasing condition in years to come and therefore see the programme as being a complimentary intervention, supporting the services already in place.”

The pilot woodland activity programme took place at Callendar Wood in Falkirk.  For participants, which included both people with early-stage dementia and their carers, it involved three hours of woodland based activities once a week for ten weeks.

Activities in the programme included woodland walks, tree planting, fire lighting and woodland cooking, nature photography, willow sculpting and tree and bird identification.

Also speaking at the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Awareness Week Conference today in Glasgow, Mandy Cook, PhD Student from University of Dundee said:

“The woodland environment offers a complete sensory experience, which stimulates reminiscence, creates conversation and promotes engagement and interaction.  The pilot woodland activity programme can be seen to contribute to the care and support of people with early-stage dementia by enhancing positive mental well-being and broadening social networks.”

More information : Research Note:  Forests as places for people with dementia

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Tha FCS pàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba; a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìon, a' cumail smachd air, agus a' leudachadh choilltean gus buannachdan a choileanadh dha coimhearsnachdan, dhan eaconamaidh agus ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh sa ghnàth-shìde.
  3. Media enquiries: Monday: Mandy Cook 01764 684219 or 07792 804074. Thereafter, Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0300 067 6508.