Creative Spaces - dementia, nature, environment and community

Creative Spaces in the Community is the new phase of our Creative Spaces project, building on the work we've done so far and shifting the focus to people living with dementia in their own homes and carers. We continue to promote and support people spending quality time outdoors and connecting with nature.

The first phase of Creative Spaces focused on people living in care and nursing homes. We met many people with dementia who were living at home in their communities.  It was clear from conversations with them, their carers and dementia professionals in the NHS that there was little if no social support for them within their communities; particularly the more isolated communities in rural parts of Cornwall. This was having a negative impact on their physical and mental health. For carers the lack of social support meant that their coping mechanisms were affected and was one of the triggers in making a decision to move their loved one into residential care. 

Research from the USA and UK shows that the lives of people with dementia can be significantly improved by making changes to their environment that support a sense of meaning and purpose. They benefit from opportunities to use creative skills that employ undamaged parts of the brain, leading to a renewed confidence and improved ability to make connections with their wider community. There is a need for more social support to be made available to people living with dementia in more rural, isolated communities in Cornwall so that they too can have access to these benefits.

How are we achieving this through Creative Spaces in the community?

Contact with nature and outdoor spaces continues to play the main role.  We are using nature-based activities as creative methods to support people to spend more time outdoors, to have greater access to social opportunities and to improve other people’s knowledge of dementia so that they are better able to support those affected by it.

Our community-based events and workshops are helping people to have meaningful conversations around dementia care and support in the community.  People living with dementia are able to share and learn skills with service providers (shop staff, local business owners) and other community members such as families and young people.

Training will be provided for people with dementia, carers, community members and support workers, enabling all of them to learn skills to create positive community environments and shared activities. Read more about our dementia training.

Older people with dementia are participating in events and workshops, as part of our advisory group and attending training sessions to give participants an insight into the reality of living with dementia in communities.  They are also learning and guiding others in techniques to undertake reviews that identify what is needed for community outdoor spaces to become more dementia-friendly.

This project will help improve the quality of life for people with dementia and the quality of care they receive by improving their health and improving other people’s understanding of dementia in the communities they are part of.


The project is designed to:

Improve the physical and mental health of older people with dementia by using the outdoors and nature-based activities to become more active, build social networks and foster independence. Participation will build sense of purpose and provide people with more interest and meaning in their lives.

Tackle the prevalent issues associated with living with dementia – social isolation, limited physical activity, reduced interests and dependency on others. It will enable older people with dementia to lead independent, fulfilling lives for as long as possible.

Develop better dementia support networks within rural isolated communities, raising awareness of dementia and how the outdoors can contribute to dementia-friendly communities. Service providers (including library staff, community leaders, shopkeepers) will be supported to learn how to make the outdoor elements of communities dementia-friendly, eg parks, gardens, village greens and car parks.

Create a model to demonstrate the benefits of incorporating the outdoors in dementia-friendly rural communities, and showing how to achieve this. This will be disseminated nationally online and through Sensory Trust networks.

Integrate a robust evaluation programme based on previous experience and connections with the European Centre for Environment and Human Health and the New Economics Foundation.

The project will target the most isolated and disadvantaged communities in Cornwall focusing on people aged 65+ living with dementia at home; carers of older people with dementia and community members including service providers, children and young people aged 7 – 18.

For more information, to find out about our activity groups or to volunteer with the project please contact Wendy on 01726 22900

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Tony RobinsonActor and presenter Tony Robinson:

"Sensory Trust provide a valuable service supporting people with dementia, particularly those living in isolated communities. The outdoors and nature can deliver much needed support to encourage active lives, independent living and support within their communities. I'm delighted to support their Creative Spaces in the Community project."

Why I walk

People living with dementia and their carers tell their story through animation.

Dementia Nature Kits are helping carers bring nature into the lives of people living with dementia

dementia nature kit resources

You might also be interested in

Find out how to join one of our regular groups

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

The benefits of contact with nature for everyone - why we do what we do!

Working together in Cornwall - find out how we work in partnership with a range of dementia focused organisation

Wendy Brewin, Inclusive Communities Co-ordinator:

"We are delighted that the Big Lottery has chosen to fund this project. The number of people with Dementia in the UK is rising and there is an urgent need to examine new ways in which we can improve the quality of life for what is now a significant portion of the population. By working with people living with dementia, carers and communities, this project will be an important contribution to the building of dementia-friendly places and communities."