The Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, attended a celebratory event which marked the expansion of the ASA Dementia Friendly Swimming Project.
The project, which is now going into its second year, is being rolled out to six new areas across England with support from a number of partners. It helps to support people living with dementia to carry on enjoying the benefits of swimming.
The expansion of the project was marked by a special event at Clissold Leisure Centre in Hackney. As well as the Sports Minister, representatives from the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association), partner agencies, local authorities and the Alzheimer’s Society were in attendance.
Launched in February 2015, the Dementia Friendly Swimming Project has been very successful, piloted at leisure centres in Durham and Manchester, and been recognised at the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Awards 2015 and the Spirit of Manchester Awards.
Swimming helps to reduce anxiety by clearing the mind and relaxing the body. It also offers important opportunities for people to socialise, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.” – Adam Paker
The ASA will now be working with local partners in Bristol, Nottingham, Crawley, Barking and Dagenham and the London boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Together they aim to create a network of swimming pools that are safe and welcoming for people living with dementia.
Adam Paker, Chief Executive of the ASA, said: “With an ageing population and the numbers of people diagnosed with dementia set to rise, the Dementia Friendly Swimming Project is an incredibly important initiative.
“Swimming helps to reduce anxiety by clearing the mind and relaxing the body. It also offers important opportunities for people to socialise, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“Our work in County Durham and Manchester has already shown the positive impact that swimming has on a person living with dementia, and their carers, which is why we are delighted to be to be expanding the Project to six more areas.
“Over the next two years we want to create a network of over 100 dementia-friendly pools that are safe and welcoming for all, ensuring that no one living with dementia misses out on being able to enjoy swimming and the many health and social benefits that it offers.”
Tracey Crouch passionate about Project
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch is passionate about schemes that improve the lives of people living with dementia. She said: “Staying healthy and active is incredibly important at every stage of life.
“For people living with dementia, low impact exercise such as swimming can be beneficial for both their physical and mental health. Organised activities can also help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“The Dementia Friendly Swimming Project is a great example of an initiative which does all of these things and more. No-one, including those with dementia, should feel they cannot participate in physical activity.”
Dementia is one of the key health challenges facing society today, with around 670,000 people in England living with dementia, and an estimated 550,000 carers.
No-one, including those with dementia, should feel they cannot participate in physical activity.” – Tracey Crouch MP
Research shows that low impact exercise can help to improve the quality of life for people in all stages of dementia. Swimming in particular has the added benefits of helping to reduce anxiety, improve a person’s mood and offers an overall sense of physical and mental well-being.
The Dementia Friendly Swimming Project is a three year project supported by the Department of Health’s Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund. It aims to create a network of over 100 dementia friendly swimming pools.
Over the next two years the ASA will continue to work with partners and community groups. Together they will make sure the needs of those living with dementia and their carers are fully understood.
This will include providing guidance and training for pool operators, and helping to create the right environment in which to deliver a range of low intensity exercise and swimming sessions.
Councillor Jonathan McShane, lead Member of Health, Social Care and Culture, London Borough of Hackney, said: “We are delighted to be introducing dementia friendly swimming in Hackney.
“It is an excellent initiative for people in Hackney that will see individuals presented with a new way to boost mental wellbeing, while fulfilling an activity that can bring with it a real sense of achievement.
“Dementia is one of the biggest health and social care challenges facing society today and it is vital that we continue to look at new ways to improve the lives of people with the condition. I look forward to working with local partners and groups in ensuring the programme’s success.”