The Ecology Centre
This funding will extend the dementia friendly activities on offer at The Ecology Centre and provide a safe and warm welcome for people living with dementia and their families.
By taking part in meaningful activities, working together and spending time working outdoors, participants will benefit from improved health, wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem.
The Ecology Centre, based in Kinghorn, Fife, enables young people, families and adults of all ages and abilities to experience, learn and benefit from the natural world in a safe and friendly environment.
There are two things often reported by older people (not only those living with dementia) that staff at the Centre have become aware of. The first is how people can become less connected with the seasons, something that has previously been a mainstay of people's lives. By growing fruit and vegetables, and eating seasonal produce, we become more attuned to the seasons, even a simple walk around the site can people of the time of year it is and stimulate memories.
The second is diminished interaction with young people. Overlapping with The Centre’s dementia friendly activities day on Thursday is the 'Mini Growers' group on site. This is a group of local pre-school children and their parents, who come to grow vegetables, dig in the soil, splash in puddles or whatever else the Community Gardener can think up for them. As well as the enjoyment they feel of being in the company of the children, staff at the Centre have noticed how the interaction can encourage memories of participant’s own children and grandchildren.
The Centre runs successful dementia friendly ‘Tool Shed’ sessions on Thursday mornings where participants (or ‘Shedders’ as they call themselves) are supported to take part in workshops to refurbish old tools, followed by a communal lunch.
Recently the Centre recognised a desire among Shedders to do more work outdoors, whether it is building items for use around the site, going for short walks or visiting the Centre’s polytunnel to see how the crops are developing.
The option for Shedders to go outdoors when the mood takes them is now a regular feature of Tool Shed sessions and is popular with participants. The Centre partly attributes the success of this approach to the fact that participants have the security of an indoor space as a base, combined with the freedom to choose when and how they experience the outdoors.
With this in mind, the Centre will use the funding from the Life Changes Trust to develop existing Tool Shed activities and to extend this approach to include sessions for people living with dementia in the Centre’s kitchen and polytunnel. Activities in these areas would include preparing meals and planting, tending to and harvesting produce.
The intention is that this will create an indoor 'hub' that will encourage friendships and give staff the chance to really get to know participants, but will be flexible enough to allow natural crossover between everyone. For example, the Shedders might build a planter for the gardeners who could be chatting to the cooks as they have a walk around the site to collect herbs.
The involvement of family members will also form an important part of the project and the Centre will be providing informal support to participant’s family members throughout.
In February 2019, the Ecology Centre made a fab wee film showcasing all the great work that takes place every Thursday at their dementia friendly Tool Shed sessions and their on-site dementia friendly afternoon volunteering session. It's worth a watch!
The Ecology Centre won a Dementia Friendly Fife Award from Fife Council in February 2019.
Outcomes we'd like to see
With this project we would like to see more opportunities for people living with dementia to take part in social activities, resulting in:
- Increased physical activity and improved physical and mental well-being
- Increased confidence and participation in community
- Reduction in loneliness
Read more about The Ecology Centre on their website: www.theecologycentre.org/