ASA launches national dementia friendly swimming project

Older woman by pool. Find out about the aims of the Dementia Friendly Swimming Project

The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) today launched a new dementia friendly swimming project aimed at enhancing the swimming experience of people living with dementia.

Launched at Chester-le-Street Leisure Centre in County Durham, the project will work with local authorities, health care professionals and community groups, with the aim of building a network of swimming pools that are safe and welcoming for people living with dementia and their carers.

ASA Head of Health and Wellbeing, Lara Lill, said:

Dementia is one of the biggest health challenges facing us today.Research shows that low impact exercise can help to improve the quality of life for people in all stages of dementia, and that swimming in particular has the added benefits of helping to reduce anxiety, improve a person’s mood and enhance psychological wellbeing.

But for some people living with dementia, or those that care for them, the idea of going to a swimming pool can seem quite daunting. We want to change this perception by working closely with our partners to create a safe and welcoming environment and to remove any barriers that may currently be stopping those living with dementia from enjoying the benefits of swimming.

Over the next three years the ASA will work in partnership with local authorities and a range of public health professionals, carers and community groups to create a network of dementia friendly swimming pools across England.

Durham County Council and Manchester City Council will be the first local authorities to work with the ASA to develop knowledge and understanding around the swimming needs of those living with dementia.

This will include developing guidance and training for facility operators and their staff to ensure the needs of those living with dementia and their carers are fully understood, and creating the right environment in which to deliver a range of low intensity exercise and swimming sessions.

Councillor Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said:

We are delighted to be supporting the ASA’s Dementia Friendly Swimming Project. It’s wonderful that one of County Durham’s pools has been chosen as a flagship for the National Launch.

This project links in extremely well with other work taking place in County Durham to create dementia friendly communities as part of the County Durham and Darlington Dementia Strategy.

Alzheimer’s Society operations manager for County Durham and Tees Valley, Samuel Palombella, said the Society was delighted that people with dementia, their carers and their loved ones will benefit from the project, which she is sure will be a huge success:

There are more than 6,800 County Durham residents who are currently living with dementia and this initiative will encourage them all to lead an active lifestyles which means they can continue to live well within their own communities and maintain independence.

A dementia diagnosis should not signal the end of anyone’s favourite pastimes and that’s why we so warmly welcome the arrival of dementia-friendly swimming in the North East because what is good for the heart is also good for the head.

In 2016 the Dementia Friendly Swimming Project will be expanded to include pools in Leeds, Nottingham, Barking and Dagenham, Bristol and the London Aquatics Centre. By 2017 it is hoped that the project will be rolled out to over 100 swimming pools in England.


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