Dementia nature kits

Dementia nature kits are designed to bring nature into the lives of people living with dementia and their carers through meaningful sensory rich activities. The portable kits contain sensory-engaging materials and activities designed to inspire conversation, purposeful activity and contact with nature. This project builds upon our expertise connecting people with disabilities, including older people with dementia, to the outdoors; bringing health and wellbeing benefits to those most in need. In particular, it is informed by our Creative Spaces project, which uses nature-based interests and activities to connect people with dementia, their carers and their wider communities.

Phase 1 2014

Dementia nature kits provided valuable activities for carers and people with dementia to undertake in social settings, helping to combat loneliness and encouraging individuals to remain independent for longer. Each kit is comprised of 10 resources and each resource was crafted by the Sensory Trust to give a sensory rich experience. They can be used on a very sensory level, but are also flexible enough to support more in depth connections to nature, mindfulness and the senses.

We initially worked with memory cafes, care homes and activity clubs to run user testing sessions, pilot the hubs, observe them in use and gather feedback. Using this feedback we then modified the design and manufactured 20 final kits which were delivered free of charge to sites in Cornwall and London including those who helped us with the testing.

testing nature spotting postcards collage showing a sample of resources made for the dementia nature kits project testing dementia nature kit resources

Phase 2 2016

Phase 2 built upon the links we made with groups in during phase 1 in the London boroughs of Bexley and Lewisham. We ran more workshops, tested new resources and demonstrated how nature based activities can enhance quality of life for people with dementia as well as their carers.

We ran training sessions for carers and volunteers on activities to share with people with dementia. Some concentrated on care home staff – providing techniques and guidance on how and why to integrate nature-based activities into daily care routines. Others were targeted at staff and volunteers supporting community groups, such as activity clubs and memory cafes. We have found these groups are keen to learn new ideas of how best to support connections to the outdoors and lack confidence in trying new things or supporting outdoor activity.

We created 6 new ‘DIY’ versions of our activities, incorporating free downloadable templates of resources, how-to films, case studies and symbol instructions.  This will enable more people to engage with nature and find appropriate activities and support for use in their own homes, in particular extending the reach of our dementia resources to communities not directly involved in project activity. It meets a need for carers and people with dementia to access techniques which they can download and use at home.

dementia nature kit resources

 

This project has been generously supported by a collection of funders including;

The Haberdashers' Company, Barchesters charitable foundation, Carew Pole charitable trust, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales Duke of Cornwall, Austin & Hope Pilkington Trust, Cornwall Community Foundation, Winnifred Potter Charitable Trust

Links

Creative Spaces - using the outdoors to bring creativity, conversation and delight into the lives of people living with dementia

How-to videos on Sensory Trust's Youtube channel - find a collection of activities

Creative Carers Network blog - news, ideas and activities

Nature-based activities - more ideas for sensory activities

Sensory engagement - projects, ideas and examples of how to connect with nature through the senses

Dementia-friendly activities - to help you plan dementia-friendly spaces and activities

Butterfly feeder activity

Download and print the instructions (pdf)