I do like to be beside the seaside: Creating a safer, more accessible and welcoming place for people with dementia to walk
Abstract The aim of the project was to make Prestwick promenade a safer, more accessible and welcoming space to walk for people living with dementia.
People living with dementia face many barriers in accessing the outdoors for walking and other activities. Lack of confidence, safety concerns and knowledge of safe and accessible places to go and how to get there are all reasons given for this (Is it nice outside? Natural England 2016). 35% of people with dementia said that they only go out once a week or less and 10% said once a month or less. (Building Dementia Friendly Communities, The Alzheimer’s Society 2013). This experience has been described as ‘shrinking world’.
We have also heard first-hand about the importance people living with dementia place on walking and being able to remain socially connected with their communities.
‘I have a history of walking and I do not want to stop’.
Methods: Paths for All worked in partnership with volunteers from Dementia Friendly Prestwick who had identified a number of changes they wanted to make through their regular health walk that meets on the promenade. A steering was first established to oversee the project which included local agencies South Ayrshire Council, Ayrshire Roads Alliance, as well as Paths for All and Dementia Friendly Prestwick. A list of prospective changes was created and a community consultation was carried out online, with community groups and with the general public.
Results: The following changes have been implemented:
• Dementia friendly signage for the public toilets
• 14 benches
• Dementia friendly directional signs
• Pedestrian refuge
• Noticeboards to share information about local events and services
• Public art project with artist Alec Finlay
• Series of films promoting the changes
Conclusion: Through this project we would recommend:
• Voluntary groups can be positive agents of change
• Engage with local authorities to support practical and physical works
• Consultation is key, go beyond the target audience to ensure wider community buy-in
• The arts can be an effective engagement tool to prompt discussion
• No one thing will create a dementia friendly