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Walk Moray's dementia project receives Paths For All accreditation

By Lorna Thompson

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A MORAY-WIDE walking project is taking the lead in providing opportunities for people with dementia to get out and about.

The Health and Social Care managed Dementia Friendly Health Walks have now been awarded "Dementia Friendly Walking" status from Scottish charity Paths for All.

The project offers three Dementia Friendly Health Walks, in Elgin, Fochabers and Burghead, with another six in the planning.

Walk Moray provides 17 free Health Walks across the region to support people to make new friends, appreciate nature, build up their stamina and feel healthier.

The Dementia Friendly Walking accreditation is designed to reassure anyone living with the condition and their carers that the short, low-level walking routes have been risk-assessed, are fully accessible and led by trained volunteer walk leaders.

Prior to the pandemic the Health Walk programme had a dedicated team of 52 volunteers to lead walks.

Some 13 of these volunteers have undertaken Paths for All’s online Dementia Friendly Walking training to support those with the lifelong condition to live well and stay connected to their community, for as long as possible, through outdoor exercise. The volunteers have also been through Age Scotland’s dementia awareness training.

Working with dementia frailty nurse co-ordinators based in every Moray GP surgery, Age Scotland and Alzheimer's Scotland staff have worked with Walk Moray’s co-ordinator to link up the services.

Walk Moray currently offers three Dementia Friendly Health Walks, in Elgin, Fochabers and Burghead.
Walk Moray currently offers three Dementia Friendly Health Walks, in Elgin, Fochabers and Burghead.

Wendy Menzies, dementia adviser at the Moray branch of Alzheimer’s Scotland, said: "I’m really pleased to see the development of Dementia Friendly Health Walks in Moray.

"It’s great to be able to signpost people living with dementia and their carers to walks where the leaders have some understanding of the challenges those participating may be facing and are able to create an inclusive environment for the people participating.

"This has many benefits from social interactions with others, exercise, and to being part of something and feeling included in their community."

Carl Greenwood, senior development officer at Paths for All, praised Walk Moray for taking the lead.

He said: "Well done to Walk Moray, and their volunteers, for providing Dementia Friendly Health Walks to support people with dementia and their carers to enjoy time outdoors to look after their health and wellbeing.

"It is estimated that there are around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and around two-thirds are living at home.

"Many people find that after a dementia diagnosis they lose their friendship connections and become lonely.

"It is therefore vital, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns stopping group activities, that there are regular activities to join where everyone can feel included and part of their community. This is exactly what Dementia Friendly Health Walks across Moray are achieving."

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