An Aberdeenshire walking organisation has been granted “Dementia-Friendly Walking” status for their Wednesday strolls.
The Westhill Walking to Health Group was awarded the status from the charity Paths for All.
The accreditation means anyone living with dementia, and their carers, can join in safe in the knowledge that the walk will be welcoming, accessible and safe.
Volunteer walk leaders from the group attended a special training course to give them the skills required to support individuals with dementia, and carefully tailored the organisation’s one-hour “health walk” on Wednesdays to suit.
On the course, the team was instructed in different ways to make the activity more accessible, such as avoiding shadowy or shaded areas, or regions prone to puddles, as these distractions can prove confusing to those living with cognitive or sensory impairments.
Other lessons learned included making sure points of interest feature on the walks, to give people an opportunity to reminisce, learn something new, or stimulate the senses – such as areas with scented flowers.
Kirsty Muirden, who coordinates the walks, said: “I think for both myself and the leaders involved, it has been a really interesting process which has challenged our views and preconceptions of the condition.
“It has been really rewarding to see how the group has progressed.
“They have really grown as a project not only in numbers, but also in the quality of their services to the community.”