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NEWS: Dementia friendly farming project for Dumfries & Galloway

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People living with dementia in Dumfries and Galloway will reap the benefit from a new project that helps them connect with the outdoors through agricultural and farming activities.  A funding award of £14,800 has been made to NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway will develop and deliver a two year project in the Stewartry area, working with the farming community and other organisations to build a programme of activities for people with dementia who are from a farming background, or who are interested in in learning something new and getting outdoors.

10% of Scotland’s national agriculture workforce are located in Dumfries and Galloway. For them, farming is a life of being outdoors. But when someone needs care or has to stop their farming activities because of dementia, they can also lose touch with being outside in the environment which is a key part of their identity and their memories.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway will work with the farming community and a partnership of organisations including care homes, public and third sector organisations, to build a programme of activities that will support people to visit farms, attend marts and agricultural shows - a key event in the farming calendar - get close to farm machinery, and connect, or reconnect, with farming life.

Everyone who participates will have the opportunity to develop their own personal memory resource, so that memories and experiences can be revisited and shared with family and carers.

Stella Milsom, Stewartry Health and Wellbeing Project Co-ordinator who is leading the project, said: “We are very proud to be one of the areas to receive a grant from the Life Changes Trust to enable this innovative work to take place in Dumfries and Galloway. Working with members of the Retired Farming Social Group, we are developing a programme of outings and collecting resources that stimulate reminiscence.  For those in the community who have more advanced dementia we are working in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland so we are able to offer personalised experiences on a one-to-one basis. The support we are receiving from across the farming community is fantastic, with offers of venues for trips and shared activities with the local young farmers clubs.  

“This is one initiative within a wider piece of work on Health and Wellbeing in the Farming Community. We already know there is evidence that being connected and in nature is good for our wellbeing, as is being with people with shared interests. So we are already seeing people feeling less isolated and more connected.  One lady who attends with her husband who has dementia said, “I haven’t seen my husband so animated in an age. He goes to a day centre, but doesn’t have anything in common with the people there. But here, he has stories, life experiences and laughs to share with everyone else.””

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