At Home Care Assistance we are always looking to share and champion wonderful resources with our clients especially when it comes to dementia care. We have come across Australia’s first of its kind dementia-friendly forest and sensory trail that is now open in Woowookarung Regional Park in Ballarat Victoria.1
This trail is aligned with our evidence-based approach to care, the Balanced Care Method™, our holistic approach to working with specific lifestyle behaviours to enhance the lives of seniors to help them live longer, happier, more balanced lives. With four of the six key factors of our Balanced Care Method™ being physically active, sense of calm, cognitive stimulation, and social engagement. These factors are parallel with the forest sensory trail objectives, so we couldn’t be more excited to share this Australian first initiative!
History of the Dementia-Friendly Forest and Sensory Trail
The project is a joint venture between Bigger Hearts Dementia Alliance and Parks Victoria that has been co-designed by people living with dementia, care partners, healthcare professionals, members of the local community, and traditional owners of the land. The initiative aims to harness the power of nature to positively impact the health outcomes of those living with dementia.
Whilst there is currently no cure for dementia, it is known that some medications may assist in the reduction of symptoms and improve quality of life. Yet, researchers and clinicians are always looking for new innovative approaches to manage symptoms as well as slow progression of the disease. Recently, a new approach called social prescribing has shown some promise. This is the basis of how the dementia-friendly forest and sensory trail project originated2.
This trail has been curated to promote the wellbeing and health of all people through the experiences of nature, but in particular those living with dementia. Enabling all those who walk the trail a chance to connect with nature, connect with loved ones, and have a chance to move, think and feel.
There are two tracks:
- Welcome Wander: Rest, talk, listen and reflect. Providing a safe, inclusive, sensory experience catered to those who have limited mobility and might be in a wheelchair.
- Forest Trek: Stroll, stretch, meander, and observe on a forest adventure.
Why is this Trail Important to Home Care Assistance?
At Home Care Assistance we understand the important connections between exercise, diet, social ties, a sense of calm and mental engagement, through our Balanced Care Method™. This methodology touches everything we do and is the cornerstone to how we provide in-home care services, especially dementia care.
The dementia- friendly forest and sensory trail aligns with four of our six tenants of the Balanced Care Method™.
This sensory trail encourages everyone locally to get moving. Physical activity is essential to healthy ageing especially with more than 55% of Australian adults not meeting physical activity guidelines3. The accessibility of this trail enables people with advanced dementia or other chronic health conditions to still be as active as their health conditions allow them to be.
Sense of Calm:
A diagnosis of dementia can have a raft of emotions from changes in personality or mood, loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities and be quite distressing for the individual, causing depression and anxiety with their independence feeling at risk. The sensory trail has been designed to create a sense of calm by allowing and encouraging a connection to nature.
Our dementia Care Workers encourage stimulating activities to keep our clients as active and engaged cognitively as possible. The trail has conversation nooks dispersed with resting spaces to allow the ability to talk, listen and remember.
Research shows that for seniors, social engagement provides emotional support, reduces stress and loneliness. Yet many people become less socially engaged as they age. Dementia Australia recently found that 74% of people living with dementia have not kept in touch as they did to others prior to their dementia diagnosis, with 80% no longer invited to social functions2. Lack of social connection has been correlated with worsening cognitive performance, so this trail encourages families, friends, carers, and groups to come together and experience the trail as a collective. Creating memories along the way.
To find out more about this brilliant initiative and plan a visit for you or your loved one, click here.
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As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.